Security Experts:

Official jQuery Website Abused in Drive-by Download Attack

The official website for the popular JavaScript library jQuery (jquery.com) has been compromised and abused by cybercriminals to distribute information-stealing malware, RiskIQ has reported.

Roughly 70 percent of the world's top 10,000 websites rely on jQuery for dynamic content, and because most jQuery users are website and systems administrators who maintain elevated privileges within their networks, it's possible that this attack is part of an operation whose goal is to compromise the systems of major organizations, RiskIQ said.

"Typically, these individuals have privileged access to web properties, backend systems and other critical infrastructure. Planting malware capable of stealing credentials on devices owned by privilege accounts holders inside companies could allow attackers to silently compromise enterprise systems, similar to what happened in the infamous Target breach," James Pleger, RiskIQ Director of Research, explained in a blog post.

According to the security firm, the jQuery library itself doesn't appear to be affected by the attack. However, the attackers planted an invisible iframe on the jQuery website to redirect its visitors to another site hosting the RIG exploit kit.

The RIG exploit kit was recently seen in several malvertising campaigns. The exploit kit is often used to deliver banking Trojans and other information-stealing malware. Last week, Avast researchers reported spotting a RIG attack in which the Tinba banking malware was the payload.

After consulting with researchers at Dell, RiskIQ determined that the malware being served in this particular attack is Andromeda, Pleger told SecurityWeek. While RIG includes exploits for several vulnerabilities, Pleger said they directly observed Microsoft Silverlight exploits being used.

The redirector domain utilized in the attack (jquery-cdn[.]com) is hosted in Russia and it was registered on September 18, the day on which the attack started. Fortunately, the administrators of jQuery.com removed the malicious code, but the redirector domain is still online as of September 23.

The attack affected companies in various sectors, including banking, technology and defense, Pleger said via email. While RiskIQ hasn't been able to track down all the victims of this campaign, the security firm has notified all the companies it has identified as being attacked.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.