Researchers at cybersecurity firm Endgame have developed a proof-of-concept attack called Instegogram, where image...
By submitting your personal information, you agree that TechTarget and its partners may contact you regarding relevant content, products and special offers.
steganography is used to create stealth malware command-and-control channels on a user's Instagram application. How can attackers execute this attack, and what options are available for security teams to detect these kinds of steganography attacks?
One of the most difficult aspects of controlling a botnet is the command-and-control infrastructure (C&C). Bot masters want to be able to reliably control their botnet, and that requires check-ins with the C&C.
Malware typically has one or more ways to contact the C&C infrastructure embedded in it. It also has functionality to transition to communicating with other nodes in the C&C, minimizing the chance of the initial C&C node being detected.
Malware authors have tried to hide their C&C infrastructure by using custom protocols, domain name generating algorithms, peer-to-peer connections, scans of the internet, encrypted connections and many other methods. In some cases, leveraging free cloud or social media services as C&C infrastructure has helped attackers disguise malicious communications as legitimate traffic.
The Endgame researchers' Instegogram proof-of-concept attack used image steganography to encode data in images on Instagram for the C&C. This allowed the researchers to create a C&C infrastructure from an application that would be commonly allowed on enterprise and mobile networks. The proof-of-concept malware downloaded the images from Instagram and extracted the data for the C&C.
Endgame made several recommendations to Instagram, as well as other social networks, to prevent their services from being used as C&C infrastructures, such as compressing or making changes to the images without changing the quality of the images in order to prevent C&C data being encoded in the image. Endgame's recommendations for enterprises include focusing on detecting outliers in network behavior, such as multiple new devices using Instagram or multiple new devices using the same account.
Learn about the ways attackers use steganography to hide malware
Find out how an Android Trojan recruits Twitter accounts as C&C servers
Discover how the Necurs botnet spreads Locky ransomware
Dig Deeper on Smartphone and PDA Viruses and Threats
Related Q&A from Nick Lewis
Rakos malware is attempting to build a botnet by attacking embedded Linux systems. Expert Nick Lewis explains how enterprises can prevent attacks on ...continue reading
The Switcher Trojan spreads to Android devices through the wireless router to which they are connected. Expert Nick Lewis explains how this attack is...continue reading
USB Killer devices, with the ability to destroy systems via a USB input, are available and inexpensive. Expert Nick Lewis explains how they work and ...continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.