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Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Cisco Identifies Virus That Kills Off PCs

Researchers have discovered "Rombertik," a computer virus that tries to avoid detection by making the computer it infects unusable.

Once it's triggered, the virus deletes key files on a computer, making it constantly restart. On Windows machines where it goes unnoticed, the malware steals login data and other confidential information.

According to Talos, Romberik is a complex piece of malware that is designed to hook into the user’s browser to read credentials and other sensitive information for exfiltration to an attacker controlled server.

Rombertik has been identified to propagate via spam and phishing messages sent to would-be victims. Like other spam and phishing campaigns, attackers use social engineering tactics to entice users to download, unzip, and open the attachments that ultimately result in the user’s compromise.

The process by which Rombertik compromises the target system is a fairly complex with anti-analysis checks in place to prevent static and dynamic analysis. Upon execution, Rombertik will stall and then run through a first set of anti-analysis checks to see if it is running within a sandbox. Once these checks are complete, Rombertik will proceed to decrypt and install itself on the victims computer to maintain persistence. After installation, it will then launch a second copy of itself and overwrite the second copy with the malware’s core functionality. Before Rombertik begins the process of spying on users, Rombertik will perform once last check to ensure it is not being analyzed in memory. If this check fails, Rombertik will attempt to destroy the Master Boot Record and restart the computer to render it unusable.

The malware "indiscriminately" steals data entered by victims on any website, the researchers said.

Good security practices, such as making sure anti-virus software is installed and kept up-to-date, not clicking on attachments from unknown senders, and ensuring robust security policies are in place for email (such as blocking certain attachment types) can go a long way when it comes to protecting users.

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