This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.X

Symantec warns of Makadocs Trojan that uses Google Docs

Share this article:

A new iteration of the backdoor Trojan Makadocs is capable of hiding its command-and-control (C&C) server communications by abusing a legitimate Google Docs function.

According to Symantec researchers, the malware is using Google Docs as a proxy server to pass along information to C&C servers. The tweaked code is also capable of comprising machines running Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.

Kevin Haley, director of product management within Symantec security response, told SC Magazine US that fewer than 100 Makadocs infections have been detected, and he believed that the individuals behind the malware apparently were just testing out the updated malware.

Makadocs, which is downloaded on victims' machines when they open malicious Word or Rich Text Format (RTF) documents sent in phishing emails, uses legitimate functionality within Google Docs to hide its communications. 

“There's a feature in Google Docs called ‘viewer' that allows you to look at a document on another person's machine. You can get the URL of where the document is [through the feature]. Makadocs can use the ‘viewer' feature to access its C&C server instead,” he said.

While the phishing tactics used to spread the Trojan are commonplace, what Makadocs creators developed to keep the C&C communications under the radar is what caught researchers' attention.

Since the malware existed before Windows 8 was launched, researchers believe the code was updated after the operating system was introduced to widen its threat to users.

He said: “The malware is built to steal information from the computer, so it's a pretty standard information stealer.” He also said that basic information such as the infected computers' domain name and operating system of choice were passed along to C&C servers.

Symantec also said that it was possible for Google to thwart this abusive behaviour by blocking the malware's connection to the Docs server using a firewall. A Google spokesman said that the company would take action if abuse of its services became a major concern.

Share this article:

SC webcasts on demand

This is how to secure data in the cloud


Exclusive video webcast & Q&A sponsored by Vormetric


As enterprises look to take advantage of the cloud, they need to understand the importance of safeguarding their confidential and sensitive data in cloud environments. With the appropriate security safeguards, such as fine-grained access policies, a move to the cloud is as, or more, secure than an on-premise data storage.


View the webcast here to find out more

More in News

4% of Googlebots are fake and can launch attacks

4% of Googlebots are fake and can ...

Admins' fear of damaging their SEO gives malicious search engine bots a 'VIP pass' into sites.

Brit Lauri Love faces more US hacking charges

Brit Lauri Love faces more US hacking charges

Lauri Love, a 29-year-old British man from Stradishall in Suffolk, has been charged by a US court with hacking into multiple US government computers and stealing more than 100,000 employee ...

More questions than answers as BBC outage fuels DDoS talk

More questions than answers as BBC outage fuels ...

The British Broadcasting Corporation was hit by a prolonged outage on its website and iPlayer video-on-demand service (VOD) last weekend, raising questions about the cause and whether it was subjected ...