Firm uncovers how attackers compromise companies’ software
Kaspersky Lab experts have discovered a backdoor planted in a server management software product used by hundreds of large businesses around the world.
When activated, the backdoor allows attackers to download further malicious modules or steal data. Kaspersky Lab has alerted NetSarang, the vendor of the affected software, and it has promptly removed the malicious code and released an update for customers, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek gathered.
ShadowPad is one of the largest known supply-chain attacks. Had it not been detected and patched so quickly, it could potentially have targeted hundreds of organisations worldwide.
In July, 2017 Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis (GReAT) team was approached by one of its partners – a financial institution.
The organisation’s security specialists were worried about suspicious DNS (domain name server) requests originating on a system involved in the processing of financial transactions.
Further investigation showed that the source of these requests was server management software produced by a legitimate company and used by hundreds of customers in industries like financial services, education, telecoms, manufacturing, energy, and transportation.
Further Kaspersky Lab analysis showed that the suspicious requests were actually the result of the activity of a malicious module hidden inside a recent version of the legitimate software.
Following the installation of an infected software update, the malicious module would start sending DNS-queries to specific domains (its command and control server) at a frequency of once every eight hours.
The request would contain basic information about the victim system (user name, domain name, host name). If the attackers considered the system to be “interesting”, the command server would reply and activate a fully-fledged backdoor platform that would silently deploy itself inside the attacked computer.
“ShadowPad is an example of how dangerous and wide-scale a successful supply-chain attack can be. Given the opportunities for reach and data collection it gives to the attackers, most likely it will be reproduced again and again with some other widely used software component.
“Luckily NetSarang was fast to react to our notification and released a clean software update, most likely preventing hundreds of data stealing attacks against its clients.
“However, this case shows that large companies should rely on advanced solutions capable of monitoring network activity and detecting anomalies. This is where you can spot malicious activity even if the attackers were sophisticated enough to hide their malware inside legitimate software,” said Igor Soumenkov, security expert, Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.
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