Web site of UK landmark hacked to serve malware

Forth Road Bridge historical Web site dishing out porn pop-ups

The Web site of one of the UK's most famous landmarks, the Forth Road Bridge, has been torn open in embarrassing fashion to serve malware, researchers are reporting.

According to the security blog of a small consultancy, Roundtrip Solutions, the Web site is now hosting an 'obfuscated' Javascript hack created using the Neosploit Crimeware Toolkit, dishing out payloads including, the blog reports, porn pop-ups.

The actual code embedded on the site's web server appears to point to a server in Turkey, returning instructions directing visitors to the BBC Web site, only occasionally delivering a more serious Javascript payload, essentially anything its creators wished.

The bloggers speculate that the hack appears to go beyond embedding code. "Something else on the web server has been compromised allowing access to the FETA [the Forth Estuary Transport Authority] website files," they suggest. "One of the website developers has a compromised workstation computer that allowed hackers to gain the FTP username and password directly using a key logger."

The hack doesn't appear to have been hard for the researchers to spot using Exploit Labs' (now AVG's) Linkscanner Pro firewall-oriented scanning software.

Security vendor Finjan confirmed the hack as genuine. "The exploit used obfuscated Javascript, a trend we identified back in our fourth quarter 2006 Web security trends report," said CTO Yuval Ben-Itzhak.

"In order to prevent dynamically obfuscated code and similar types of advanced hacking techniques, we recommend businesses to include real-time content inspection products to analyze and understand the active code embedded within web pages on-the-fly before it reaches the end-user machine," he said.

Dynamically obfuscated code of the type created by the Neosploit Crimeware toolkit could be difficult to root out. "This is because the analysis needs to break the obfuscated code into its constituent segments and interpret what the code segment intends to do, and take appropriate action," he said.

Neosploit's most famous victim is probably Monster.com, which late last year had to endure the humiliation of having its jobs Web site hijacked to serve similar exploits.

Web site hacks of this sort are becoming more common, with Neosploit, Icepack, and the well-known Mpack attack kits now in common circulation.

It's only one Web site among many millions, but as fish go, the FETA site is no small fry. The bridge itself is the main crossing across the river Forth from Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, and as much of a landmark in the UK as the Brooklyn or Golden Gate bridges would be in the US.

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John E. Dunn

Techworld.com

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