Unusual Vectors

Threatpost is reporting the use of the more unusual malware vectors with a pentester sending bogus CDs and letters supposedly from the National Credit Union Administration containing training materials. The CDs, of course, contain malware and the real lesson is not to judge a CD by its cover letter.

There's nothing new about this type of attack vector; its similar to an old case of pentesters who left usb sticks outside their target and watched the employees 'find' the drives and then, as expected, plug them in their computers as soon as they got into the office.

While a well trained staff should have had second thoughts about the latter, the former is much more troubling. How would even a trained security officer know the difference between a 'real' training CD from an official body (or partner company) and a fake?

Many organizations are constantly receiving CDs in the mail, legitimate CDs from partners, regulatory and government bodies or software trials/updates from vendors. Should someone with malicious intent be targeting an institution (or institutions), then slipping this type of trojan-laden CD into the mail probably wouldn't be all that hard. Especially if it was disguised as something the organization was expecting or receives on a regular basis.

The downside of this type of spear-phishing attack is it becomes more difficult to maintain the level of anonymity that the internet can provide once you are passing out physical discs, so although it might have a higher strike rate for the attacker, the risks of being caught are also greatly increased.

I can recall once dealing with a company in the past who had simply removed all the CD drives from their PCs to stop employees bringing in malware. This is something similar to the old 'supergluing the usb ports' trick. While an effective measure, it is somewhat extreme and will more than likely cause more problems than it will solve.

Nonetheless this type of attack is a troubling thought for those tasked with protecting a company's information assets. The only good part is it is unusual and unlikely to happen to you, but might be worthwhile mentioning in your next security awareness course.

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