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The GootLoader Hackers are After Law Firms and Accounting Firms

Potential victims are directed to hacked websites that include pages of business-related content, but infected with GootLoader.

 

GootLoader is a piece of initial access malware that allows its operators to install a variety of other malware families, including ransomware, on affected devices. It was first discovered in December 2020. The GootLoader hacking organization has been primarily targeting personnel at law and accounting firms in recent weeks, with the most recent attack occurring on January 6. So far, eSentire claims to have intercepted three such assaults. Potential victims are directed to hacked genuine websites that include hundreds of pages of business-related content, including free document samples for download, but they are instead infected with GootLoader. 

GootLoader is distributed using Drive-By-Download programmes, which are driven by SEO, specifically through Google. The hackers are enticing business professionals to authentic but compromised websites that they have packed with hundreds of pages of content, including multiple connections to business agreements, including legal and financial agreements, in these recent attacks.
 
The content claims to provide free downloads of these documents. eSentire's Threat Response Unit (TRU) discovered that the GootLoader hackers set up over 100,000 malicious webpages marketing various forms of commercial deals during an intensive GootLoader campaign that began last December. 

How are the GootLoader threat actors able to infiltrate reputable websites with hundreds of pages of malicious content? 

Tragically, it is just too simple. Hundreds of legitimate websites employing WordPress as the content management system have been detected by the GootLoader gang. WordPress, like many other content management systems, has several vulnerabilities, which hackers may simply exploit to load websites with as many harmful pages as all without the knowledge of the website owner. These websites, according to the TRU team, encompass a wide spectrum of industries, including hotel, high-end retail, education, healthcare, music, and visual arts. 

"The abundance of content that threat actors have pushed onto the web, when professional looks for a sample business agreement on Google, the hackers' malicious web pages appear in the top Google searches," said Keegan Keplinger, TRU's research and reporting lead. 

Three law businesses and an accounting firm were targeted by the cybersecurity services provider, which said it intercepted and demolished the attacks and the victims' identities have not been revealed. Organizations should implement a vetting process for business agreement samples, train staff to open documents only from reputable sources, and confirm that the content downloaded matches the content intended for download.
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