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Trend Micro warns business and organization users to be aware of a new targeted attack called "Safe"

Trend Micro Incorporated has exposed a new targeted attack campaign called "Safe" which compromised government ministries, technology firms, media outlets, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations from over 100 countries. This campaign was first seen on October 2012. Macky Cruz, security focus lead of Trend Labs, Trend Micro Incorporated, explained their concern, "Those obvious threat campaigns are becoming increasingly well known within the security community." She said, "However, there are some new and smaller campaigns emerging as well, which could create successful and long-term compromises of high-value organizations and enterprises worldwide, and these campaigns cannot be ignored." These campaigns, such as "Safe", use small clusters of C&C servers, new malware as well as attack fewer targets. The campaign involved nearly 12,000 unique IP addresses that were connected to two sets of command-and-control (C&C) servers with the countries involved being widely dispersed.

Country                                                Number of IP addresses

India                                                      4,305

United States                                    709

China                                                     625

Pakistan                                               554

Philippines                                          445

Russia                                                   307

Brazil                                                     283

Romania                                              248

Saudi Arabia                                       192

Algeria                                                  180

United Arab Emirates                     170

Serbia                                                   161

Malaysia                                              154

Syria                                                      151

Hungary                                               147

Figure 1: Breakdown of the top 15 Unique IP Address Locations

Trend Micro released a research paper which documented the operations of this "Safe" campaign along with their threat protection recommendations. Safe targeted its victims using spear-phishing emails containing a malicious attachment exploiting a Microsoft Office vulnerability (CVE-2012-0158) and leveraging social engineering techniques for initial intrusion. Furthermore, their research discovered in its finding that the average number of actual victims connected to the C&C server remained at 71 per day, with few if any day to day changes. The research also noted that the Safe campaign targeted specific industries and communities in specific regions as early as October 2012. While determining the intent and identity of the attackers remains difficult, Trend Micro assessed that the Safe campaign is targeted and uses malware developed by a professional software engineer who may be connected to the cybercriminal underground in China. However, the relationship between the malware developers and the campaign operators themselves remains unclear.

Implementation of Trend Micro solutions will help prevent and detect attacks related to the Safe campaign. Trend Micro recommends a comprehensive security risk management strategy that goes further than advanced protection to meet the real-time threat management requirements of dealing with targeted attacks.

About Trend Micro
Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in security software, strives to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our solutions for consumers, businesses and governments provide layered data security to protect information on mobile devices, endpoints, gateways, servers and the cloud. Trend Micro enables the smart protection of information, with innovative security technology that is simple to deploy and manage, and fits an evolving ecosystem. All of our solutions are powered by a cloud-based global threat intelligence data mining framework, the Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ infrastructure, and are supported by over 1,200 threat experts around the globe. For more information, visit TrendMicro.com.

For more details you may contact
Yuen Wei Chan  |  03-7803 4600  |  yuenwei.chan@acapacific.com.my

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