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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Remote Access Trojans (RAT) tracked at 100,000 Google business sites

Sitewide RAT (Remote Access Trojans) is neither new nor uncommon. But when it comes to Google, it is a whole different story. An early briefing in The Register said that 100,000 business sites were being compromised, which caused security vulnerability to users. The incident went around google hosted business sites. As people browsed through them, they got infected. Backdoor malicious script popularly known as Remote Access Trojans (RAT) took access to their device. It did seem harmless at first. Downloading PDF or MS Word document is as common as it sounds. But in terms of RAT, they can take control of the victim's computer, containing sensitive business data or personal information.

Backdoor RAT's are pretty simple to execute from the attacker's side, and it is easy to get infected. A business owner or someone who handles sensitive company information may be prone to losing every security document depending on the attack brutality. According to Sneaky redirects by Google search central, it is the trick to send a visitor to a URL different than the requested one. And that URL will contain a payload to trick the user into downloading simple executable like PDFs. It is a form of social engineering.

A simple procedure to stay safe while creating business and attain traffic to your business site is to provide legit information on your selling products. Not just copy & paste information that will de-rank your site down the road. According to google webmaster, if you only have affiliate links on your business page that provides affiliate links of multiple products and copy-pasted specification, they go against the terms. This, as a result, ranks against sites that can be controlled by people with less effort and potentially waiting for a chance to inject a keylogger or RAT.

Printable receipts, eBooks, zipped files are also prone to have attached scripts than any other file formats as they are the most used ones. Google hosts many business platforms, and to get on their goodwill of search terms; it is important to provide important data that helps customers. If the website is not selling any physical product and just there for the information, then even the info should have sufficient value. They should not just scrape information from anywhere else. In an article covered by The Register, we've seen just that.

The attack is pretty straight forward. On a host machine where the executable file is made, an attacker attaches code of whichever script they want to run on a victim machine. Initially, they are done on local network hosts. Which means information can be shared in real-time. They can also take screenshots of the victim computer, downloading files from the victim pc and even logging password dumps.

On the final note, to protect business and websites from being tagged as malicious redirects, it is recommended to hinder practices of auto redirects. Spamming affiliate links is not recommended as googles crawler can detect them easily. These are not just hardcoded software anymore. They are AI-run powerful programs that track how a site performs and user behaviour regarding it. Cloaking, hidden links, and similarly we mentioned before, "scrapping" should be highly prohibited.

According to eSentire, a cybersecurity solution provider, the flood of injecting 100,000 malicious pages shook the infrastructure of how a business platform should function. These programs come in business forms. But as an outcome, they delivered malware. Remote Access Trojans (RAT) are not a newcomer in the cybersecurity field. They are here for a long time but evolved gradually. They used to be pretty straight forward and could cause permanent harm, but now they can do much more damage as technology advanced. The tracked pages are hard to find one by one, but chances are, someone browsing without filters will fall trap to it, without even guessing what's wrong.

Our logged keywords associated with the attack contain ransomware, malware, and anything related to social engineering with network redirects. So the next time while downloading a web template or documented PDF and even receipt from a website, you should be extra careful. Of course, Google does a tremendous job to stop these attacks right in its footstep. But chances are, if the user is not alert enough and clicks on a malicious link, you'll fall victim—the same routing for sending a file. Our mentioned attack installed SolarMarker RAT to the target systems with tools like Yellow Cockatoo, Jupyter etc.


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