By Andrew Brandt
Late Monday, after news about the death of troubled pop singer Amy Winehouse had been circling the globe for a little more than 48 hours, we saw the first malware appear that used the singer’s name as a social engineering trick to entice victims to run the malicious file. Abusing celebrity names, news, or even deaths isn’t a new (or even particularly interesting) social engineering tactic, but there was one unique aspect to this particular malware’s behavior that raised some eyebrows around here: It appears that Brazilian phisher-Trojan writers seem to be working more closely with their Chinese counterparts, using servers in China as dead drops for their stolen goods.
The widely-reported case of the malware campaign continues to distribute new, randomized files via a download link managed through a dynamic DNS service, more than a week on. The file’s name, in Portugese, (“103684policia-inglesa-divulga-fotos-do-corpo-da-cantora-amy-winehouse-WVA.exe“) translates roughly to English police divulge photos of singer Amy Winehouse’s corpse, but victims who open this file are only going to see their computer become compromised.
The malware modifies the Hosts file in Windows to redirect traffic from 78 different Web sites — the vast majority of which are Brazilian banks and finance sites such as e-gold, with the rest being American Express, and Microsoft‘s Brazilian and US domains for Hotmail, Live, and MSN — to one of 9 IP addresses, almost all of which point to servers hosted in Chinese networks. One oddball outlier IP address in the modified Hosts file list points to an IP address belonging to the network operated by the Ford Motor Company, but that IP address was not allocated to an operational server when I did some tests.