Visitors to IndiaTimes.com, a major English-language Indian news site, risk infecting their computers with a deluge of malware, according to Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at ScanSafe.
"It's an entire cocktail of downloader Trojans and dropper Trojans," Landesman said Friday, putting the number of malicious files involved at 434. This includes scripts, binaries, cookies, and images.
Landesman characterized the size of the malicious payload as unusually large. She also noted that the attack involved a large number of Web sites. Analyzing just two of the binaries, she said that ScanSafe had identified at least 18 different IP addresses involved in the attack.
"Only certain pages of the IndiaTimes.com are infected," ScanSafe said in its Nov. 9 Threat Alert. "The impacted pages contain a script which points to a remote site containing iframes pointing to two additional sites. One of the sites included cookie scripts and an iframe pointing to a non-active site. The other iframe pointed to an encrypted script which exploits multiple vulnerabilities in an attempt to download malicious software onto susceptible systems of users visiting indiatimes.com."
"It appears that the Metasploit Framework was the framework used to facilitate these attacks," Landesman said. The Metasploit Framework is a security testing tool that can also be used maliciously.
Landesman decline to elaborate on the specifics of the exploit other than to say it involved cross-site scripting and that it could turn the victim's computer into a site for malware distribution. "We have reason to believe these are zero-day vulnerabilities," she said. "What we don't want to do is irresponsibly lead people to those exploit pages."
ScanSafe's Nov. 9 Threat Alert identifies one of the vulnerabilities as the MDAC vulnerability described in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-014.
Warning that much of current antivirus software misses this exploit, Landesman said that "a person even with up-to-date antivirus software is going to be susceptible to this. In the normal course of using this service, you'd arrive at this page and you'd be silently infected."
While Landesman would not say which operating systems or browsers could be affected, she acknowledged that ScanSafe had contacted Microsoft about this particular attack. She also said that her company had reached out to IndiaTimes.com, but pointed out that Nov. 9 is a holiday in India.
"We're hoping they will cut their holiday short and take the appropriate actions," she said.