The Ghost In The Browser: Analysis of Web-based Malware
As more users are connected to the Internet and conduct their daily activities electronically, computer users have become the target of an underground economy that infects hosts with malware or adware for financial gain. Unfortunately, even a single visit to an infected web site enables the attacker to detect vulnerabilities in the user’s applications and force the download a multitude of malware binaries. Frequently, this malware allows the adversary to gain full control of the compromised systems leading to the ex-filtration of sensitive information or installation of utilities that facilitate remote control of the host. We believe that such behavior is similar to our traditional understanding of botnets. However, the main difference is that web-based malware infections are pull-based and that the resulting command feedback loop is looser. To characterize the nature of this rising thread, we identify the four prevalent mechanisms used to inject malicious content on popular web sites: web server security, user contributed content, advertising and third-party widgets. For each of these areas, we present examples of abuse found on the Internet. Our aim is to present the state of malware on the Web and emphasize the importance of this rising threat.