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Stuxnet Exploits Still Alive & Well

Exploits continue abusing a four-year-old bug used in the Stuxnet attack, Kaspersky Lab says.

One of the main vulnerabilities used in the infamous Stuxnet attack -- patched four years ago -- is being used in attack attempts against millions of machines around the world, according to new data.

Kaspersky Lab found that during November 2013 and June 2014, the Windows Shell flaw (CVE-2010-2568) used by Stuxnet to gain administrative rights on a Windows machine remotely was detected 50 million times attacking some 19 million machines in Vietnam (42.45%), India (11.7%), Indonesia (9.43%), Brazil (5.52%), and Algeria (3.74%).

Those nations also have some of the most Windows XP installations, which likely explains why a high percentage of them are the target of that Stuxnet vulnerability, according to Kaspersky Lab. Some 64.19% of those machines in the sample were XP; 27.99%, Windows 7; 3.99%, Windows Server 2008; and 1.58%, Windows Server 2003. Around 4.52% of all active XP machines are in the US, according to Kaspersky's data.

The "critical" Windows Shell flaw would let a remote or local attacker run code via a malicious .LNK or .PIF file via an improperly handled icon displayed in Windows Explorer. Microsoft issued a patch for the vulnerability on August 2, 2010; Stuxnet was first discovered in June of that year.

Kaspersky Lab researchers say the problem likely has to do with servers that aren't being updated or that lack proper security software. The servers also could be infested by a worm that exploits the flaw and spreads the infection.

"We have seen some vulnerabilities go back to 2009-2010, and I suspect that we can find even older examples. Therefore I am not surprised by a 2010 CVE that Stuxnet is using, is still viable," says Barry Sheitman, director of security strategy at Imperva.

The problem, of course, is that many black hat hackers know that old vulns die hard, so they abuse them, he says.

The full Kaspersky Lab Stuxnet report is available here.

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