Check Point researchers identified a new attack vector, named ImageGate, which embeds malware in image and graphic files. Furthermore, the researchers have discovered the hackers’ method of executing the malicious code within these images through social media applications such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
According to the research, the attackers have built a new capability to embed malicious code into an image file and successfully upload it to the social media website. The attackers exploit a misconfiguration on the social media infrastructure to deliberately force their victims to download the image file. This results in infection of the users’ device as soon as the end-user clicks on the downloaded file.
In the past week, the entire security industry is closely following the massive spread of the Locky ransomware via social media, particularly in its Facebook-based campaign. Check Point researchers strongly believe the new ImageGate technique reveals how this campaign was made possible, a question which has been unanswered until now.
Check Point recommends the following preventive measures:
- If you have clicked on an image and your browser starts downloading a file, do not open it. Any social media website should display the picture without downloading any file.
- Don’t open any image file with unusual extension (such as SVG, JS or HTA).