China seen targeting banks, military in Forbes Web attack

Flash and Internet Explorer vulnerabilities were used in targeted attack, say security companies

A Chinese hacking group infiltrated the Forbes.com site in November and used it to launch targeted attacks against website visitors from US. banking and defense companies, according to a cybersecurity company.

The attack took place over a period of several days, starting Nov. 28, and took advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, according to ISight Partners. The vulnerability was kept quiet until Tuesday, when Microsoft issued a patch to plug the security hole in its web browser. Adobe had previously published a patch for Flash.

The attack used a Flash vulnerability and was launched from the "Thought of the day" Flash widget that appears when people first visit the financial magazine's site, said Invincea, a second cybersecurity company that independently detected the attack.

ISight said the attack has the fingerprints of a Chinese hacking group known by security researchers as either Codoso or Sunshop Group. It said technical indicators in the malware as well as use of the same undisclosed vulnerabilities as used in other hacks by Chinese groups led to this conclusion.

Among ISight's evidence: some of the malware code was written in simplified Chinese, used in mainland China, and it bore a resemblance to the "Derusbi" malware that is unique to Chinese hackers. The command system for the malware relied on an Internet domain previously used in Chinese hacks and pointed to web pages that had been used in Chinese attacks in the past.

The group has been active since at least 2010 and targets companies in the defense, finance and energy industries, governments, political dissidents and think tanks, said ISight.

The company said previous hacks by the group have included an attack on the website of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee in 2010, a spear-phishing attack against government users in 2011 and an attack on websites related to the Uyghur minority in China in 2013.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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 malwareintrusionpatchesiSight PartnersInvincia

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

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?