U.S. Department of Labor website infected with malware

The malware has been linked to a China-based hacking campaign that struck a Fortune 500 company in 2011

A subdomain of a U.S. Department of Labor website appeared offline on Wednesday after an apparent hack that looks similar to a known China-based hacking campaign nicknamed DeepPanda.

The tampered page, called Site Exposure Matrices (SEM), contains information on toxic substances at U.S. Department of Energy facilities, according to security vendors AlienVault and Invincea.

Hackers planted code on the main SEM page which redirected victims to other pages within the department's website that attacked visitors' computers. Invincea wrote that the site has been fixed, but it appeared to be offline late Wednesday.

When someone was redirected to an infected page, a script surveyed the computer to figure out what versions of software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Systems' Reader, Java or various antivirus programs it is running, wrote Jamie Blasco, director of AlienVault's Labs.

The attack code then tries to exploit a vulnerability in older versions of Internet Explorer, wrote Anup Ghosh, founder and CEO of Invincea. The vulnerability, CVE-2012-4792, has been patched by Microsoft.

The style of attack is known as a drive-by download. It is particularly dangerous since potential victims merely need to visit a site in order for the attack to be executed.

Once installed, the malicious software attempts to contact a command-and-control server using a protocol linked with "a known chinese actor called DeepPanda," Blasco wrote.

The department could not be immediately reached for comment.

The security company CrowdStrike published a white paper that described DeepPanda as a China-based operation that tried to attack a large Fortune 500 company in December 2011. That attack sought to install remote-access Trojans (RATs), which would allow hackers to steal information from an infected computer.

The U.S. and China have clashed in recent months over cybersecurity. U.S. companies have become increasingly vocal over what they say are technically sophisticated long-term infiltration campaigns originating from within China.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Department of LaborAlienVaultsecurityInvinceaExploits / vulnerabilities

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?