iFrame-based redirection attacks used to monitor Chinese organizations

Pierluigi Paganini September 29, 2014

Security Experts at FireEye discovered a new malicious campaign which is targeting Chinese organizations with iFrame traffic redirection to serve RAT.

Security experts at FireEye observed a new malicious campaign that is targeting non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations by compromising legitimate website.

The threat actors use to compromise legitimate websites to host iframes used to hijack visitors to a threat actor-controlled IP address that serves a Poison Ivy remote access tool (RAT). Experts at FireEye discovered evidence of the involvement of the Sunshop Digital Quartermaster, a known collective of malware authors which provided malicious code used by different China-based APT groups.

FireEye previously identified this specific RT_MANIFEST as the ‘Sunshop Manifest,’ and we have observed this same manifest resource used in 86 other samples. As we stated in the Quartermaster report, we believe this shared resource is an artifact of a builder toolkit made available to a number of China-based APT groups.” states the report published by FireEye

The experts identified a similar attack pattern for the “hack” of at least three different websites: an international non-profit organization and two different non-governmental organizations.

The APT behind the attacks injected the malicious iframes on the targeted websites, in two cases it also obfuscated them.

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The iframes allow attacker to redirect visitors to a website hosting a Java exploits ( which downloads and decodes a variant of Poison Ivy hosted at: hxxp:img//

It is interesting to note that to improve evasion capability of the RAT, the threat actor has also signed the code using the following digital certificate.

“Installation of certain types of software (e.g. application updates) its code to be digitally signed with a trusted certificate. For this reason, cyber criminals and other bad actors have started to target entities managing digital certificates. By stealing a digital certificate associated with a trusted vendor and signing malicious code with it, it reduces the possibility that a malware will be detected as quickly.” I wrote in a post on the misuses of digital certificates.

The attackers attempted to masquerade the malicious code as a Google Chrome file, but they misspelled multiple words.

The experts believe that the malicious campaign started compromising websites belonging to NGOs and non-profits to target other organizations in the same industries.

ChineseHacker iFrame

Technically the attackers are exploiting watering hole attacks to compromise organization employees and other organizations in the same industries, it is likely that Chinese hackers are working for the Government in surveillance activities.

“We suspects threat actors sought to monitor these programs and involved individuals. The three organizations whose websites are hosting the malicious iframes have China-based operations.” states the reports.”FireEye expects threat actors are motivated to steal programmatic data and monitor organizations’ programs in specific countries. If China-based threat actors are behind the observed campaign, FireEye expects that organizations with operations in China are high-priority targets.”

Anyway, not only those industries are affected by iFrame based attacks, the technique is very common in cyber criminal ecosystem and largely adopted also for financial motivated attacks.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – iframes, ATP)

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