Safe computing? Only with live Linux CD or dedicated Linux box


Van Chocstraw

The recently released APWG Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q3 of
2009, details record highs in multiple phishing vectors, but also offers
an interesting observation on desktop crimeware infections.

According to the report, the overall number of infected computers (page
10) used in the sample decreased compared to previous quarters, however,
48.35% of the 22,754,847 scanned computers remain infected with malware.

And despite that the crimeware/banking trojans infections slightly
decreased from Q2, over a million and a half computers were infected.

How does this happen, and how are cybercriminals bypassing the phone
verification process?

* Malware sits inside a user’s browser and waits for the user to log
into a bank. During login, the malware copies the user’s ID, password
and OTP, sends them to the attacker and stops the browser from sending
the login request to the bank’s website, telling the user that the
service is “temporarily unavailable.” The fraudster immediately uses the
user ID, password and OTP to log in and drain the user’s accounts.
* Other malware overwrites transactions sent by a user (URLZone
Trojan Network) to the online banking website with the criminal’s own
transactions. This overwrite happens behind the scenes so that the user
does not see the revised transaction values. Similarly, many online
banks will then communicate back to the user’s browser the transaction
details that need to be confirmed by the user with an OTP entry, but the
malware will change the values seen by the user back to what the user
originally entered. This way, neither the user nor the bank realizes
that the data sent to the bank has been altered.
* Authentication that depends on out-of-band authentication using
voice telephony is circumvented by a simple technique whereby the
fraudster asks the phone carrier to forward the legitimate user’s phone
calls to the fraudster’s phone. The fraudster simply tells the carrier
the original phone number is having difficulty and needs the calls
forwarded, and the carrier does not sufficiently verify the requestor’s
identity before executing the fraudster’s request.

Last month, The American Bankers’ Association (ABA) issued a similar
warning to small businesses, recommending the use of dedicated PC for
their E-banking activities, one which is never used to read email
or visit web sites in an attempt to limit the possibility of crimeware

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