MiniDuke Description

Type: Adware

MiniDuke is a malware threat that has been used in targeted attacks against European government institutions. MiniDuke typically invades its victims' computers through targeted PDF files delivered to specific individuals. ESG security researchers have observed that MiniDuke has been used to attack institutions associated with European governments throughout government, with known attacks specifically located in Ukraine, Romania and Portugal. MiniDuke represents a severe threat to a computer and, considering the high profile targets involved in this attack, may allow criminals to gain valuable information that can be sold to a third party. In fact, it may be possible for MiniDuke attacks to be state sponsored and part of espionage activities. To prevent MiniDuke attacks, ESG security researchers strongly advise computer users to avoid opening unsolicited email attachments.

MiniDuke Infections Are Typically Delivered Via Malicious PDF Files

Even though DOC and PDF files traditionally are considered more secure than formats like EXE and ZIP, this is a complete misconception. Vulnerabilities in applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader mean that DOC and PDF files can be used to execute malicious code on the victim's computer. ESG security researchers have observed that most MiniDuke infections begin in the form of a malicious PDF file delivered to the victim through an unsolicited email message. It is likely that the creators of MiniDuke have been inactive for a long time or were inspired by attacks from long ago. This is because the technique used to deliver MiniDuke is very similar to widespread malware attacks that took place more than a decade ago! The malicious PDF files used to deliver MiniDuke into a computer are very believable and use authentic elements to resemble legitimate documents that may be interesting to the targeted individuals.

The MiniDuke infection uses an exploit in the malicious PDF files written in Assembler programming language. This allows MiniDuke to be very small, only twenty KB! MiniDuke attacks take advantage of vulnerabilities present in Adobe Reader 9, 10, and 11. Although patches for these vulnerabilities exist, many individuals continue to use outdated versions of Adobe's software. Once MiniDuke has infected a computer, MiniDuke attempts to spread to other computers through malicious social media messages and spam emails. MiniDuke also creates a backdoor that permits cybercriminals to gain access to the infected computer.

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