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Friday, 7 February 2014

Alert: Large-scale DNS redirection on home routers for financial theft

In late 2013 CERT Polska received confirmed reports about modifications in e-banking websites observed on… iPhones. Users were presented with messages about alleged changes in account numbers that required confirmation with mTANs. This behavior would suggest that some Zeus-like trojan had been ported to iOS. As this would be the first confirmed case of such malware targeting the platform, and at the same time it targeted Polish e-banking users, it immediately attracted our attention. Internally we have come up with several scenarios of how it might have happened, but unfortunately were not able to gather enough first-hand data about the case to rule out any options.

The key to the riddle was in recent reports about vulnerabilities in home routers allowing attackers to remotely modify their configuration. After DNS servers settings are changed on a router, all queries from inside the network are forwarded to rogue servers. Obviously the platform of a client device is not an issue, as there is no need for the attackers to install any malicious software at all. How was the webpage content altered, then?

First, let’s understand the implications of DNS hijacking. The most obvious consequence is invasion of privacy, as miscreants can profile users based on DNS queries they make. However, this is just where the problem begins. Being in control of DNS serves, criminals can send arbitrary IP addresses in response, effectively redirecting traffic to hosts under their control. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack.

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