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Apache Darkleech Compromises

Dan Goodin, editor at Ars Technica, has been tracking and compiling info on an elusive series of website compromises that could be impacting tens of thousands of otherwise perfectly legitimate sites. While various researchers have reported various segments of the attacks, until Dan’s article, no one had connected the dots and linked them all together.

Dubbed “Darkleech,” thousands of Web servers across the globe running Apache 2.2.2 and above are infected with an SSHD backdoor that allows remote attackers to upload and configure malicious Apache modules. These modules are then used to turn hosted sites into attack sites, dynamically injecting iframes in real-time, only at the moment of visit.

Because the iframes are dynamically injected only when the pages are accessed, this makes discovery and remediation particularly difficult. Further, the attackers employ a sophisticated array of conditional criteria to avoid detection:

  • Checking IP addresses and blacklisting security researchers, site owners, and the compromised hosting providers;
  • Checking User Agents to target specific operating systems (to date, Windows systems);
  • Blacklisting search engine spiders;
  • Checking cookies to “wait list” recent visitors;
  • Checking referrer URLs to ensure visitor is coming in via valid search engine results. Read More »

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