As recently as 2013, vulnerabilities involving Java appeared to be a favored tool of adversaries: Java was easy to exploit and, and exploits involving the programming language were difficult to detect. However, as reported in the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report, Java is losing its front-runner position as a favored tool of bad actors looking to breach network security.
The decline in Java’s high profile as an attack vector in 2014 was recorded by Cisco Security Research. Only one of the top 10 most commonly exploited vulnerabilities in 2014 was related to Java (see chart below). In 2013, Cisco tracked 54 urgent new Java vulnerabilities; in 2014, the number of tracked vulnerabilities fell to just 19. We saw a corresponding decline in reports from the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), which includes all reported vulnerabilities: from 309 Java vulnerabilities in 2013, down to 253 in 2014.
This 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.
HTTP requests for a specific Angler Exploit Kit campaign
Angler exploit content types delivered to victims, application/x-gzip (Java) is notably absent
With the announcements on NX-OS APIs, Application Centric infrastructure APIs, python scripting support, SDN, open source projects OpenStack, OpenDaylight, and Puppet, I have opened an account at codecademy.com and will start with Python and Java. I see many late nights in my future. This stubborn old networker is finally onboard.
This post was also authored by Andrew Tsonchev and Steven Poulson.
Update 2014-05-26: Thank you to Fox-IT for providing the Fiesta logo image. We updated the caption to accurately reflect image attribution.
Cisco’s Cloud Web Security (CWS) service provides TRAC researchers with a constant fire hose of malicious insight and now that we are collaborating with Sourcefire’s Vulnerability Research Team (VRT) we have additional capabilities to quickly isolate and prioritize specific web exploit activity for further analysis. Thus when we were recently alerted to an aggressive Fiesta exploit pack (EP) campaign targeting our customers, we quickly compared notes and found that in addition to the typical Java exploits, this EP was also using a Microsoft Silverlight exploit. In the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report (ASR) we discuss how 2013 was a banner year for Java exploits, and while updating Java should remain a top priority, Silverlight is certainly worth patching as threat actors continue to search for new application exploits to leverage in drive-by attacks.
Image provided courtesy of Fox-IT
Over the past 30 days this specific Fiesta campaign was blocked across more than 300 different companies. The attacker(s) used numerous dynamic DNS (DDNS) domains – that resolved to six different IP addresses – as exploit landing pages. The chart below depicts the distribution of hosts used in this attack across the most blocked DDNS base domains.