Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

4/21/2015
10:00 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Zero-Day Malvertising Attack Went Undetected For Two Months

Researchers at Malwarebytes tracked stealthy attack campaign that infected some major websites with malicious ads harboring ransomware.

RSA CONFERENCE -- San Francisco -- Cybercriminals deployed an Adobe Flash Player zero-day exploit embedded in online ads for close to two months in an attack that targeted US users with a ransomware payload, researchers said here today.

The use-after-free vulnerability, CVE 2015-0313, was patched by Adobe on Feb. 2, and the day after, the attack campaign came to a screeching halt, according to researchers at Malwarebytes, which traced the zero-day's lifecycle after their systems detected the attacks in December of last year. The attackers injected the malware-ridden ads on the websites of Dailymotion, Huffington Post, answers.com, New York Daily News, HowToGeek.com, tagged.com, as well as a handful of other sites.

"A zero-day was under everybody's nose for two months on top websites," says Pedro Bustamante, director of special projects for Malwarebytes.

Bustamante says the researchers had never before seen a malvertising campaign like this one. The attackers used a popular advertising network, which Malwarebytes did not name but said is ranked as the number one such network by Comscore.

Malwarebytes doesn't have a head count of victims hit with the ransomware, but traffic to the infected sites reached over 1 billion in February of this year. Not all of those victims obviously were infected--although they would not have to click on the infected ad to get infected, they had to meet the demographics the attackers were looking for, which were US consumers behind residential IP addresses.

Each of the affected websites ran the malicious ads for an average of two days, and Malwarebytes in its research traced back its first detection and blocking of the zero-day exploit on Dec. 10, 2014.

The attackers used the HanJuan exploit kit, which was hosted on rotating domains to evade detection. It drops CryptoWall ransomware for click fraud purposes.

The attackers appear to be "a highly professional operation" given the use of an 0day for months on high-profile sites, Jerome Segura, senior security researcher at Malwarebytes wrote in a report on the attacks. "All in all, this zero-day threat underlines how the threat from exploits delivered through malvertising is one that should be taken much more seriously," he said.

A recent study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps tracked online ad traffic patterns for 36 major companies and discovered that advertisers are losing $6.3 billion to $10 billion per year in ad fraud.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SgS125
50%
50%
SgS125,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2015 | 10:23:03 AM
So all the way to day 2 at RSA before anything to write about?

Wondered how far the value of the RSA conference  had fallen.

Thanks for reinforcing my decision to never go again.  I had trouble finding anything of value last year and it seems that the content has gone to an even lower standard.  I guesss last Decembers news is good enough for the RSA crowd.

 

Maybe they got a few people to attend the guy who gets kicked off the United flight speech.

 

Hang in there only a few more hours till cocktail time in Frisco where the real RSA action happens.

RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2015 | 8:46:14 AM
Hiding in plain site
It's amazing how the malvertising attacks were injected in ads hosted by such well known websites. Many I would have considered reputable and trustworthy. Its scary to see that these things are hiding in such widely trafficked areas.

I remember reading an article stating that ad space is difficult to lock down as everyone, not only people with genuine need, can buy ad space.
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2015 | 7:12:27 AM
Scary
Ransomware creeps me out. Even though I have multiple back ups of my important files, folders and images, I really would rather the people that put the software together just stole money from my bank account. I can always earn that back, but personal files and images are totally irreplaceable. 

It's a great reason for people to make sure their files are well protected. 
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
How Security Vendors Can Address the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage
Rob Rashotte, VP of Global Training and Technical Field Enablement at Fortinet,  5/24/2019
TeamViewer Admits Breach from 2016
Dark Reading Staff 5/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-7068
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7069
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have a type confusion vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7070
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7071
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to information disclosure.
CVE-2019-7072
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .