Israel targeted by malware packaged with pornographic video

Trend Micro said two campaigns, one sophisticated and one not, shared the same infrastructure

Israeli institutions have been targeted by an Arab-speaking hacker group that sought to extract sensitive documents, according to Trend Micro.

The campaign, which Trend called Operation Arid Viper, focused on sending phishing emails to targets. Those emails came with malware packaged with a short pornographic video, according to the company's report.

The phishing emails were sent to targets including a government office, infrastructure providers, a military organization and academic institutions in Israel and Kuwait.

The attacks "targeted professionals who might be receiving very inappropriate content at work and so would hesitate to report the incident," Trend wrote. "These victims' failure to act on the threat could have then allowed the main malware to remain undiscovered."

The malware then began hunting around on a victim's hard disk for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and text files. It reported the files to the command and control server, which then decided which files to steal.

The command-and-control servers used by Arid Viper were "closely locked down, providing very little hint that could aid our investigation," Trend said.

Trend found the Arid Viper attacks shared the same command-and-control infrastructure as another campaign it calls Advtravel, although the style of attacks are very different.

The company gained insight into Advtravel after a server connected with the operation was left open on the Internet.

"This allowed us to download copies of its entire content to study as part of our investigation before its owners realized their mistake and locked it down," the report said.

The Advtravel attackers infected more than 500 systems of mostly Arabs living in Egypt. They focused on stealing images from victims' computers, many of which were screenshots of Facebook profiles, perhaps in an attempt to identify victims.

"This could be a sign that they are looking for incriminating or compromising images for blackmail purposes," Trend wrote. "As such, the attackers may be less-skilled hackers who are not after financial gain nor hacking for espionage purposes."

Overall, the Advtravel attackers were much less skilled than Arid Viper. "They look like a classic group of beginner hackers just starting their careers," Trend said.

Trend did extensive research into the email addresses used to register domain names use for Arid Viper's command-and-control infrastructure as well as Advtravel, linking some possible actors to the Gaza Strip.

But it cautioned that such analysis was not definitive, as the attackers could have easily faked information required to register domain names.

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 trend microsecuritymalware

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?