Hackers Use MIT Server to Hack 100,000 Sites
November 7, 2011 2:42 PM
comment(s) - last by
Nearly five months of attacks went unnoticed and successful thanks to the MIT domain's strong reputation
Most content-heavy sites on the web today are driven by a mix of PHP and SQL. Unfortunately, exploits abound from popular PHP database manager frontends like PHPMyAdmin. Thus, "hacking" many websites has been reduced from an art down to a "brute force" search for applicable SQL vulnerabilities [
]. And that's just was cybercriminals want.
In this bold new world of SQL injection having a reliable host for your "brute force" attack web-crawler program is essential. A recent incident involving an infected server at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
shows how *.edu servers may be the perfect vehicle to carry out cybercriminals' attacks.
The MIT server had the perfect profile to carry out attacks. It had bandwidth aplenty. And it piggybacked on its school's strong reputation, making its requests automatically appear trusted and less suspicious.
MIT's campus [Source: Aisha]
Thus it's not surprising that once a malicious softbot was planted on the MIT server that it was able to wreak havoc on the internet for nearly six months.
The attacking server was identified by Bitdefender, the antimalware arm of Romanian-based software firm Softwin. It is unknown how the malicious software was planted on the server. What is clear is what the attacking software has been doing.
The attacking server (CSH-2.MIT.EDU) would locate webpages and initiate a set of SQL injection attempts using GET requests and certain characters troublesome sequences like "//". An example is seen below in the
"GET /w00tw00t.at.blackhats.romanian.anti-sec:) HTTP/1.1"
"GET /muieblackcat HTTP/1.1" 404 "GET //scripts/setup.php HTTP/1.1" 301
"GET //admin/scripts/setup.php HTTP/1.1"
"GET //admin/pma/scripts/setup.php HTTP/1.1" 404
"GET //admin/phpmyadmin/scripts/setup.php HTTP/1.1" 404
"GET //db/scripts/setup.php HTTP/1.1" 404
These attempts targeted vulnerabilities in PHPMyAdmin versions 2.5.6 to 2.8.2. PHPMyAdmin is an open source frontend that
at the popular software repository SourceForge. It has an impressive 50k+ downloads a week. The latest version is 3.4.7.
The attacks compromised a reported 100,000+ websites in the five months since the MIT server was compromised in June.
The script would use injection attempts to deface pages, dumping keywords on them that would elevate their page rank. It would also dump images from BlogSpot, DeviantART, and Tumblr, among others, on the front-page.
Over 100,000 webpages were compromised by the rogue MIT server. [Source: SecurityWeek]
The telltale sign of the compromised pages was a directory "muieblackcat", which was created on the victims' server space.
For now the attack has been silenced, but it serves as a warning of the growing dangers of SQL injection attacks and the potential of abuse of trusted *.edu servers.
wrote a piece
on the attacks, suggest implementing anti-injection rewrite rules/conditionals and to rename your PHPMyAdmin script to prevent quick identification from casual attackers.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
small typo Jason
11/7/2011 3:50:35 PM
first paragraph: "And that's just was cybercriminals want."
'was' should be 'what'
Nice read otherwise
“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
Nokia is the Victim of SQL Injection, Loses Developer Records
August 29, 2011, 8:37 AM
LulzSec Strikes Again, 1M Sony Pictures User Accounts Compromised
June 2, 2011, 6:27 PM
Sony Loses Yet More Customer Records, 3 More Sites Hacked
May 25, 2011, 8:16 AM
Sony Appears to Have Lost Yet Another User Database
May 23, 2011, 9:09 AM
Pirate Bay Hacked, 4 Million User Records Looted, Site Is Down
July 8, 2010, 10:31 AM
Quick Note: Amazon UK Offers £10 Back on Any Order £50 or Over
August 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Editorial: Reddit Allows Itself to be Hijacked as a Hate Platform For Racist Bigots
July 21, 2015, 6:32 PM
Mozilla and Facebook to Adobe: It's Time to Kill Flash
July 20, 2015, 6:30 PM
Instagram Bans "Curvy" From Hashtag Searches, Provokes "Plus Sized" Outrage
July 16, 2015, 1:20 PM
Mozilla Promise Punctual Windows 10 Firefox Release, Teases at iOS Arrival
July 7, 2015, 3:08 PM
Netflix Announces 7-to-1 Stock Split, Eyes Explosive Overseas Growth
June 23, 2015, 8:18 PM
Most Popular Articles
Samsung Gear S2 Borrows Circular Icons From Apple Watch
August 21, 2015, 2:48 PM
Future of Lumia Uncertain as Microsoft Lays Off 2,300, Closes 1 of 3 Finnish Offices
August 24, 2015, 6:14 PM
Kentucky Man Faces up to 10 Years in Prison for Shooting Drone Trespasser
August 13, 2015, 2:58 PM
Microsoft's Windows 10 Leaves Lumia 530 Behind w/ 8 GB Storage Requirement
August 25, 2015, 4:02 PM
Aluminum 7003, Used in Roofing, May be Tapped by Apple for iPhone 6S/6S+
August 24, 2015, 4:45 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information