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Nasty IE Zero-Day Used in Attacks Against Defense, Financial Sectors: FireEye


Researchers from FireEye have discovered a nasty zero-day exploit that bypasses the ASLR and DEP protections in Microsoft Windows andis being used in targeted attacks.

The security flaw is a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2014-1776) that affects versions of IE6 through IE11, which in total accounted for 26.25% of the browser market in 2013.

The campaign is currently targeting US-based firms tied to the defense and financial sectors, a FireEye spokesperson told SecurityWeek, and is specifically targeting IE9 through IE11.

“The exploit leverages a previously unknown use-after-free vulnerability, and uses a well-known Flash exploitation technique to achieve arbitrary memory access and bypass Windows’ ASLR and DEP protections,” FireEye wrote in a blog post Saturday.

Microsoft also issued a securityadvisoryon Saturday and said they were working with partners in its Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) to extend broader protections to customers as soon as possible.

If successfully exploited, an attacker could gain the same user rights on the impacted system as the current user, Microsoft said. Accounts configured with fewer rights on the could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative privilages.

FireEye has named the campaign “Operation Clandestine Fox,” but has shared very little details other than saying the group behind the exploit has been the first to have access to a select number of browser-based 0-days in the past.

FireEye warned that the attackers are “extremely proficient at lateral movement and are difficult to track, as they typically do not reuse command and control infrastructure.”

“They have a number of backdoors including one known as Pirpi that we previously discussed here,” the researchers wrote. “CVE-2010-3962, then a 0-day exploit in Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8 dropped the Pirpi payload discussed in this previous case.”

“The SWF file calls back to Javascript in IE to trigger the IE bug and overwrite the length field of a Flash vector object in the heapspray,” FireEye explained. “The SWF file loops through the heapspray to find the corrupted vector object, and uses it to again modify the length of another vector object. This other corrupted vector object is then used for subsequent memory accesses, which it then uses to bypass ASLR and DEP.”

Because the attack leverages Adobe Flash, users who do not have Flash installed or have the Flash plugin for IE disabled, will be protected. Additionally, several versions of Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) will break the exploit.

Additional technical details are available from FireEye. Microsoft also has provided some mitigation information.


Managing Editor, SecurityWeek.Previous Columns by Mike Lennon:Nasty IE Zero-Day Used in Attacks Against Defense, Financial Sectors: FireEyeAIG Expands Coverage to Include Physical Damage Caused By Cyber Attacks150 Million Downloaded Android Apps Vulnerable to Heartbleed: FireEyeNIST Pulls Dual_EC_DRBG Algorithm from Random Number Generator RecommendationsCisco Unveils New Managed Threat Defense Service

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