Most vulnerabilities used in kits employ older exploits

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

January 23, 2013

2 Min Read

Old bugs never really die, a new study shows: Nearly 60 percent of vulnerabilities used by popular exploit kits are more than two years old, according to a new study by Solutionary's Security Engineering Research Team (SERT).

And 70 percent of the 26 exploit kits reviewed in the study were released or created in Russia. The next-closest region for kit origination is China, with 7.7 percent. And, interestingly, despite the wave of DDoS attacks on U.S. banks, there was an overall reduction in distributed denial-of-service attacks for the period of the study, the fourth quarter of 2012.

The wildly popular and pervasive BlackHole 2.0 actually exploits fewer vulnerabilities than other kits do, the report found. The Phoenix exploit kit, meanwhile, uses 16 percent of all bugs being exploited.

"SERT identified a large number of the exploit kits have been developed and distributed from Eastern Europe. SERT sees a continuation of previous trends with the majority of attacks and exploit kit hosts coming from Russia, followed by China and then Brazil," the report says.

The widespread use of old bugs demonstrates how many organizations still aren't updating and patching systems, the report says. Some of the oldest exploit code dated back to 2004.

"The fact that cyber criminals are able to penetrate network defenses by targeting aging vulnerabilities and using old techniques demonstrates that many organizations are still playing catch-up when it comes to cybersecurity. Tight budgets, inability to convince stakeholders at all levels that security should be a priority, and a shortage of research resources could be among the reasons why many security and risk teams are continuing to operate in reactive mode," says Rob Kraus, SERT director of research.

Solutionary's SERT also found that antivirus and anti-malware software misses 67 percent of malware and catches 33 percent. Some 30 percent of malware samples were JavaScript malware variants used for redirection, obfuscation, and encryption, the report says, all of which are used in BlackHole. And 18 percent of the malware was tied to BlackHole.

"Exploit kits largely focus on targeting end-user applications," Solutionary's Kraus says. "As a result, it is vital that organizations pay close attention to patch management and endpoint security controls in order to significantly decrease the likelihood of compromise."

The full report is available here for download.

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Dark Reading Staff

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