Malvertising lifecycle case study 1--OpenX compromise on speedtest.net, spreading Security Sphere 2012 fake antivirus

(Credits: Wayne Huang, Chris Hsiao, NightCola Lin)

Incident: SpeedTest.net, ranked 541 on Alexa with 8,141,777 unique visitors and 10,177,221 page views per month, fell victim to malvertising and was spreading the "Security Sphere 2012" fake antivirus to its visitors. By simply navigating to the website, visitors with outdated browsing environments (browser or browser plugins such as Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe PDF Reader, etc) will end up with Security Sphere permanently installed inside their systems.

Malware: By claiming that every application "has been infected by malware and cannot be executed," Security Sphere 2012 basically locks down the infected computer until the victim purchases a "license" for it to "clean up the infections."

Cause: SpeedTest.net runs its own online advertisement platform using OpenX, using the domain ads.ookla.com. The attackers have compromised this OpenX platform and injected an malicious iframe into every ad served. We have a video of the how visitors are infected:


Malware Lifecycle: Initially, the detection rate on VirusTotal was 0 out of 43:

The malware detects common VMs (virtual machines) and will not execute inside a VM or sandbox. This helps it avoid detection.

Below is a timeline of the malware lifecycle. We missed to submit in some spots so the timeline isn't 100% accurate, but it gives a good idea:

2011-09-XX 00:00 UTC Initial injection into SpeedTest.net and other websites
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(Anvirirus companies do not have this particular malware sample and therefore no one is detecting it)
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(We don't know how long this period was)
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2011-09-30 09:23 UTC 0 / 43, we first submitted the sample to VirusTotal. Because all 43 participating antivirus vendors are in partnership with VirusTotal, they should all have this sample once we've submitted it.

2011-09-30 11:00 UTC 2 / 43, Kaspersky, NOD32

2011-09-30 15:00 UTC 3 / 43, Dr. Web

2011-09-30 19:00 UTC 7 / 43, Comodo, Emsissoft, Microsoft, Panda

2011-09-30 23:00 UTC 9 / 43, AVG, Symantec

2011-10-01 03:00 UTC 14 / 43, BitDefender, F-Secure, GData, PCTools, SUPERAntiSpyware

2011-10-01 07:00 UTC 14 / 43,

2011-10-01 11:00 UTC 17 / 43, Avast, McAfee, VIPRE

2011-10-01 15:00 UTC 17 / 43,

2011-10-01 19:00 UTC 22 / 43, Ahn-Lab-V3, Ikarus, K7AntiVirus, McAfee-GW-Edition, Sophos

2011-10-01 23:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 03:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 07:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 11:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 15:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 19:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-02 23:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-03 03:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-03 07:00 UTC 22 / 43,

2011-10-03 11:00 UTC 30 / 43, AntiVir, Antiy-AVL, CAT-QuickHeal, Emsisoft, TheHacker, TrendMicro, TrendMicro-HouseCall, VirusBuster

2011-10-03 15:00 UTC 30 / 43,

2011-10-03 19:00 UTC 31 / 43, nProtect

2011-10-03 23:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-04 03:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-04 07:00 UTC 31/ 43,

2011-10-04 11:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-04 15:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-04 19:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-04 23:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-05 03:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-05 07:00 UTC 31 / 43,

2011-10-05 11:00 UTC 32 / 43, eTrust-Vet

2011-10-05 15:00 UTC 32 / 43,

2011-10-05 19:00 UTC 32 / 43,

2011-10-05 23:00 UTC 32 / 43,

2011-10-06 03:00 UTC 32 / 43,

2011-10-06 07:00 UTC 32 / 43,

2011-10-06 11:00 UTC 33 / 43, Fortinet

2011-10-06 15:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-06 19:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-06 23:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 03:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 07:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 11:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 15:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 19:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-07 23:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 03:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 07:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 11:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 15:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 19:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-08 23:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-09 03:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-09 07:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-09 11:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-09 15:00 UTC 33 / 43,

2011-10-09 19:00 UTC 34 / 43, JIangmin

2011-10-09 23:00 UTC 34 / 43,

Still undetecting: ByteHero, ClamAV, Commtouch, eSafe, F-Prot, Prevx, Rising, VBA32, ViRobot

4 comments:

richard said...

I found your site about 2 weeks ago when I was struggling to get rid of a virus. I have a learned a lot! (though some of it is over my head) I got a lot of great help here, and at this website: http://myvirusremoval.com/

Vijay Devakumar said...

This is the reason why having a second security application always installed and updated is recommended to remove fake antivirus in an event of infection. As far as I have seen, most of the regular antivirus apps don't even detect bogus security software. Mbam does.

glyco flex said...

Great article, teached me a lot about how to keep my PC safe!

Lela Bryant said...

Nice security post to keep our PC safe and secured from online attacks..

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