Targeted online attacks rise against Uyghur minority

Kaspersky Lab and AlienVault say the attacks are directed at Mac OS X users

Two security vendors have detected an uptick in targeted malicious software attacks against the Uyghur community, an ethnic group in western China that has long campaigned for greater independence from Beijing.

The attacks have been engineered to target Uyghur supporters using Apple's Mac OS X operating system. Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team, wrote that a number of attacks have been seen directed at the World Uyghur Congress, a Munich-based organization that promotes human rights.

The attacks, some of which were observed last year, have spiked this year, "indicating the attackers are extremely active at the moment," Raiu wrote.

In all of the cases, the attack code is embedded within a Microsoft Word document. If the document is opened, the attack code exploits a Word vulnerability (CVE-2009-0563) patched by Microsoft in June 2009, Raiu wrote.

If the attack is successful, a malicious software program known as a "backdoor" is delivered, which is capable of stealing the user's personal contacts. The malware then contacts two servers.

"Both servers are hosted at 'Black Oak Computers Inc.,' which is a well known bullet-proof hosting provider that ignores pretty much all shutdown requests," Raiu wrote.

Potential victims are often tricked by so-called spear phishing attacks, which involve sending emails targeted at specific people with malicious attachments that they're likely to open.

Jamie Blasco, director of AlienVault Labs, wrote that attackers copied some of the company's research into spear phishing and used it as a lure in attacks against Tibetan NGOs. AlienVault worked with Kaspersky on the latest research.

Raiu advised that Mac users should not feel a greater sense of security just because they are using Apple products. In prior years, Apple ran an advertising campaign that in part promoted the idea that Apple systems are immune from the malware problems that have plagued Windows.

"Mac users are definitively not immune against malware," Raiu wrote. "And especially with targeted attacks against Mac users on the increase, we can expect more malware and exploits designed to infect Mac OS X."

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

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitydata protectiondata breachkaspersky labExploits / vulnerabilitiesAlienVault

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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?