Treasury shuts down 4 cloud-hosted Web sites after infection

Malicious code, which apparently came from servers in Ukraine, discovered in four Treasury Web sites hosted by a cloud service provider causes Treasury to shut down infected sites.

Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version.

The Treasury Department has taken offline four public Web sites for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing after the discovery Monday of malicious code on a parent site.

The bureau began using a third-party cloud service provider to host the sites last year, it said Tuesday in a statement about the incident. “The hosting company used by BEP had an intrusion and as a result of that intrusion, numerous websites (BEP and non-BEP) were affected,” the statement said. The Treasury Government Security Operations Center was alerted to the problem and notified the bureau, which responded by taking the sites offline.

The infections first were reported by Roger Thompson, chief research officer for AVG Technologies, who discovered malicious code injected into the affected page Monday morning. He said the code appears to link with two attack servers in Ukraine.


Related stories

Botnet includes thousands of U.S. government computers (April 2009)

 

Massive botnet may have snared some agency systems (February 2010)

 


The Bureau of Engraving and printing has four URLs pointing to one public Web site, which was infected with a malicious iFrame. The URLs are bep.gov, bep.treas.gov, moneyfactory.gov and moneyfactory.com. “BEP has since suspended the Web site,” the bureau said in its statement. “Through discussions with the provider, BEP is aware of the remediation steps required to restore the site and is currently working toward resolution.”

AVG discovered the breach through data compiled from its LinkScanner, an endpoint security tool that protects Web browsers. LinkScanner has 110 million users around the world and scans pages behind links being accessed by the user’s browser and the results of Web searches. The malicious code that redirects visitors to the bureau’s Web sites began appearing about 11 p.m. EDT Sunday and came to Thompson’s attention at 8 a.m. EDT Monday, he said.

Thompson reported the breach to the FBI, which in turn apparently reported it to Treasury officials.

“I would gladly have reported it to Treasury, but it can be hard to find the right person,” he said. “Usually when I talk to a Web administrator they don’t believe me. When the FBI calls, they pay attention.”

He publicly reported the breach Monday in a blog posting but said initially that it appeared to have been cleaned up. He amended that statement five hours later to say that the malicious code in fact had not been cleaned from the sites and warned that the sites should not be visited until they had been cleaned up.

The confusion about whether the sites had been cleaned of the code stemmed from the fact that the attacker apparently was tracking visiting IP addresses and was not serving the malicious iFrame to visitors on subsequent visits to the compromised site.

“I really should have noticed that earlier, and have no excuse except that it was very early,” Thompson wrote in one of his postings. “And pre-caffeine.”

Thompson said the breach was a “subtle injection” that would not be readily apparent on the affected page. The exploit code was hosted on Ukrainian servers. At least one of the servers was using the Eleonore Exploit Pack, a commonly available malicious toolkit that sells for about $700. Earlier versions have contained exploits for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers, as well as vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat Reader and other software. Thompson said the current version probably also includes exploits for Java vulnerabilities.

Injecting malicious iFrames into legitimate Web sites is a common technique for hackers or other criminals trying to exploit visitors' browser vulnerabilities. The code does not necessarily take information from the compromised site, but visitors to the legitimate site are redirected to an exploit page where the browser can be scanned for vulnerabilities and malicious code is loaded onto the browser. Often, multiple exploits are available on the attack site. Such attacks commonly are used to compromise computers to steal sensitive information and for recruitment into botnets.

The attacks often track visitors so that the malicious iFrame is not served twice to the same visitor, making it more difficult for researchers to identify and study the code.

Thompson said he noticed the Treasury infections because they are in the .gov domain. “I think there are a jillion other sites being affected, but these were the only government sites, which is what we noticed.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.