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Over 250 US News Websites Deliver Malware via Supply Chain Attack

Hundreds of regional and national news websites in the United States are delivering malware as a result of a supply chain attack involving one of their service providers.

Hundreds of regional and national news websites in the United States are delivering malware as a result of a supply chain attack involving one of their service providers.

Cybersecurity company Proofpoint reported on Wednesday that a threat actor it tracks as TA569 appears to be behind the attack. The hackers have targeted an unnamed media company that serves many news outlets in the US.

The service provider delivers content to its partners via a JavaScript file. The attacker modified the codebase of that script to push a piece of malware known as SocGholish to the affected news websites’ visitors.

More than 250 news sites are impacted, including in Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, Palm Beach and Cincinnati. The actual number of victims could be higher.

“TA569 historically removed and reinstated these malicious JS injects on a rotating basis. Therefore the presence of the payload and malicious content can vary from hour to hour and shouldn’t be considered a false positive,” Proofpoint explained in a Twitter thread.

SocGholish, also known as FakeUpdates because it’s often delivered as fake browser updates, has been around since at least 2017.

Web security firm Sucuri reported in August that it had seen 25,000 sites infected with the malware since the beginning of January and 61,000 infected sites in 2021.

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SocGholish is a JavaScript malware framework and it has been linked by some to the notorious Russian cybercrime group named Evil Corp (ala Indrik Spider and TA505). However, Proofpoint does not believe TA569, which has been around since at least the end of 2016, is actually Evil Corp.

In a previous report, Proofpoint said it had seen SocGholish being leveraged for ransomware distribution.

Related: Russian ‘Evil Corp’ Cybercriminals Possibly Evolved Into Cyberspies

Related: Microsoft Connects USB Worm Attacks to ‘EvilCorp’ Ransomware Gang

Related: VirusTotal Data Shows How Malware Distribution Leverages Legitimate Sites, Apps

Related: Fake DDoS Protection Prompts on Hacked WordPress Sites Deliver RATs

Written By

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.

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