North Korean official news agency site serves malware

The site hosts malware that masquerades as a Flash Player installer, security researchers found

Users who visited the site of the state-run North Korean news agency, to see the country's response to the Sony hacking accusations or for other reasons, might want to scan their computers for malware.

A security researcher found that the site hosts a malicious file called FlashPlayer10.zip that is served by JavaScript code loaded from kcna.user.exploit.exploit.kcmsf (kcmsf is a custom file extension used by the site).

FlashPlayer10.zip contains two executable files called "Install Flash Player 10 Activex.exe" and "Install Flash Player 10 Plugin.exe." Both of the files are malicious, according to scans done with VirusTotal, an online file scanning service that uses multiple antivirus engines, said the researcher, who uses the online alias InfoSecOtter, in a blog post Sunday.

Security researchers from antivirus firm Bitdefender independently confirmed Tuesday that the files are malicious after obtaining the ZIP archive themselves from kcna.kp, the site of the Korean Central News Agency.

A quick look at the executable files suggests that the malware might steal passwords from browsers, said Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at Bitdefender. It might also do other things, but more time is required to perform a thorough analysis.

One of the files was already in the VirusTotal database since October 2013, but they might be much older. The timestamp on the files in the ZIP archive suggests they were created in December 2012.

This means the attempt to infect users through the site most likely predates the attack against Sony Pictures in December that the FBI attributed to North Korea.

It's also not clear when the site serves the FlashPlayer10.zip file, as not all users are prompted to download it. The JavaScript code that triggers the download might check for special conditions like the user system's browser version, OS, language preference, location, or other attributes. That mechanism has not yet been researched.

There are also multiple references to the word exploit in different files and directories on the site, as well as code that appears to dynamically generate PDF file names for download.

Since many aspects of this attack are still uncertain, like whether the site contains other exploits in addition to the malware that masquerades as Flash Player, users who visited the site should err on the side of caution and scan their computers for malware and take security precautions if visiting the site in the future.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intrusiononline safetysecuritymalwarebitdefender

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.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

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.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?