Sucuri’s recent research highlights a concerning cybersecurity threat involving the Balada Injector gang targeting websites utilizing the tagDiv Composer plugin, primarily in conjunction with popular themes such as Newspaper and Newsmag. This campaign was triggered by the disclosure of an Unauthenticated Stored XSS vulnerability in September 2023.
Following this revelation, there was a notable increase in Balada malware injections, impacting thousands of websites. These cyberattacks are not new, as the gang previously targeted vulnerabilities in tagDiv’s premium themes in 2017, signaling their persistent threat.
The core vulnerability exploited by the attackers allows them to inject malicious code into the “td_live_css_local_storage” option in WordPress databases, which then spreads across public pages of compromised websites.
Although this vulnerability serves as their primary entry point, the attackers’ ultimate aim is persistent control over these sites. They employ various tactics to achieve this goal, including uploading backdoors, adding malicious plugins, and creating rogue blog administrators. Their focus on impersonating logged-in site administrators poses a significant risk, as it allows them to emulate administrative activities with the intent of maintaining unauthorized access.
Sucuri’s research conducted in September 2023 identified an alarming surge in Balada Injector malware, affecting over 17,000 websites, with more than 9,000 related to the Newspaper theme vulnerability.
This substantial increase in detections underscores the urgent need for website administrators to address this evolving threat. The attackers’ ability to adapt, utilizing randomized injections, obfuscation techniques, and multiple domains, reinforces the importance of robust cybersecurity measures in safeguarding websites against such persistent threats.