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Threat Spotlight: Angler Lurking in the Domain Shadows

This post was authored by Nick Biasini and edited by Joel Esler

Overview

Over the last several months Talos researchers have been monitoring a massive exploit kit campaign that is utilizing hijacked registrant accounts to create large amounts of subdomains for both initial redirection and exploitation. This campaign has been largely attributed to Angler Exploit Kit with fileless exploits serving various malicious payloads.

The use of hijacked accounts lead to a larger research project into the use of hijacked registrant accounts. During this research the earliest examples were found from a 2011 campaign with sporadic usage until December 2014. Since December 2014 more than 75% of the subdomain activity has occurred indicating a major shift in approach. This behavior has been covered before which discussed some of the older campaigns as well as the hosting indicators (ASN) of the groups making use of the subdomains.

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Angler Exploit Kit – New Variants

This post was authored by Nick Biasini

On January 27th,  Talos researchers began observing a new Angler Exploit Kit (EK) campaign using new variants associated with (CVE-2015-0311). Based on our telemetry data the campaign lasted from January 26th until January 30th with the majority of the events occurring on January 28th & 29th.

angler_dates

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Flash 0-day Exploited by Angler Exploit Kit

This post was authored by Nick Biasini, Earl Carter and Jaeson Schultz

Flash has long been a favorite target among Exploit Kits (EK). In October 2014 the Angler EK was believed to be targeting a new Flash vulnerability. The bug that the Angler exploit kit was attempting to exploit had been “accidentally” patched by Adobe’s APSB14-22 update. According to F-Secure, the vulnerability that Angler was actually attempting to exploit was an entirely new bug, CVE-2014-8439. The bug was severe enough that Adobe fixed it out-of-band.

Fast forward to January 2015. With the emergence of this new Flash 0-day bug, we have more evidence that the Angler Exploit Kit developers are actively working on discovering fresh bugs in Flash for themselves. The group is incorporating these exploits into the Angler EK *before* the bugs are publicized. Considering these 0-day exploits are being used alongside one of Angler’s preferred methods of distribution, malvertising, thus intensifying the potential for large-scale compromise. Read More »

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Angling for Silverlight Exploits

VRT / TRACThis post is co-authored by Andrew Tsonchev, Jaeson Schultz, Alex Chiu, Seth Hanford, Craig Williams, Steven Poulson, and Joel Esler. Special thanks to co-author Brandon Stultz for the exploit reverse engineering. 

Silverlight exploits are the drive-by flavor of the month. Exploit Kit (EK) owners are adding Silverlight to their update releases, and since April 23rd we have observed substantial traffic (often from Malvertising) being driven to Angler instances partially using Silverlight exploits. In fact in this particular Angler campaign, the attack is more specifically targeted at Flash and Silverlight vulnerabilities and though Java is available and an included reference in the original attack landing pages, it’s never triggered.

Rise in Angler Attacks

HTTP requests for a specific Angler Exploit Kit campaign

Exploit Content Type

Angler exploit content types delivered to victims, application/x-gzip (Java) is notably absent

 

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