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Absolutely all of the latest versions of Microsoft Word and some versions of Internet Explorer maintain critical vulnerabilities enabling remote code execution. Today, Microsoft releases two critical patches to close multiple vulnerabilities with each. Two important updates are released to address a batch file handling issue and another RCE hole in Microsoft Publisher. All of these are addressed with MS14-017 through MS14-020.

Both end users of Microsoft Office software and system administrators of SharePoint portals, Microsoft Office Web Apps servers, and even Apple Office for Mac users need to download and install these patches: MS14-017 and MS14-018.

These sorts of Office vulnerabilities are commonly and frequently the delivery vector for targeted attack spearphishing campaigns. Red October, NetTraveler, and Icefog, all abused Office vulnerabilities in their spearphishing campaigns. There are many more of these groups, and they will continue to actively pursue potential victims, in part using exploits for Office applications.

On the brighter side, Microsoft is doing a fantastic job of consistent response and update delivery. Accordingly, their software, while it continues to be heavily used, does not continue to remain even in the top 10 vulnerable software applications that we see. Those spots still go to Oracle's Java, Adobe's Flash and Photoshop, Apple's Quicktime, WinRAR, WinAmp and other media players, and other apps that are frequently targeted by commodity exploit packs.

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The Internet Explorer vulnerabilities do not hit all of the Microsoft platforms in the same manner as the Word vuln this month, although critical RCE is enabled by every version of unpatched Internet Explorer code on at least one version of every Microsoft Windows platform. So, Internet Explorer 6, which no one should be using, maintains critical RCE on the now unsupported Windows XP SP3 and XP Pro x64 SP2. IE 7, 8, 9 all maintain critical RCE as well. Internet Explorer 10 is not affected. IE 11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 maintains critical RCE, but moderate severity on Windows Server 2008 and Windows 2012 R2. The Windows Update software will smoothly make sense of all of the versioning and patch needs for you when run. Nonetheless, there are serious issues here that exploit packs likely will attack with fresh exploit code.

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No doubt it's been a crazy week for anyone even remotely interested in Bitcoin. Mt. Gox, once the largest Bitcoin marketplace out there, has shut down, putting a bitter end to an almost month-long situation in which all withdrawals were halted because of technical issues.

Mt. Gox BTC price evolution in February 2014, source: Clark Moody

As customers were unable to move their funds out from Mt. Gox, the world's most famous exchange essentially became isolated from the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem, making the Bitcoin price traded on Mt. Gox plummet to as low as $100 for 1 BTC before the exchange went completely offline.

In our forecast for 2014, we've stated that attacks on Bitcoin, specifically attacks on Bitcoin pools, exchanges and Bitcoin users will become one of the most high-profile topics of the year. These attacks will be especially popular with the fraudsters as their cost-to-income ratio is very favorable.

While the Mt. Gox incident might be the most significant in Bitcoin history to-date, as it is rumored to be worth 744,408 Bitcoins, or more than $300 million at current BTC prices, the only question that remains unanswered is what actually caused it.


A short while ago, we came across a set of similar SWF exploits and were unable to determine which vulnerability they exploited.

We reported this to Adobe and it turned out that these ITW exploits targeted a 0-day vulnerability. Today, Adobe released a patch for the vulnerability.

This post provides a technical analysis of the exploits and payload that we discovered.

All in all, we discovered a total of 11 exploits, which work on the following versions of Adobe Flash Player:


All of the exploits exploit the same vulnerability and all are unpacked SWF files. All have identical actionscript code, which performs an operating system version check. The exploits only work under the following Windows versions: XP, Vista, 2003 R2, 2003, 7, 7x64, 2008 R2, 2008, 8, 8x64. Some of the samples also have a check in place which makes the exploits terminate under Windows 8.1 and 8.1 x64.

Operating system version check algorithm


Eight Microsoft Security Bulletins are being pushed out this month, MS13-096 through MS13-106. Five of them are rated "Critical" and another six are rated "Important". The top priorities to roll out this month are the critical GDI+ (MS13-096), Internet Explorer (MS13-097), and Scripting Runtime (MS13-099) updates.

Several of the vulnerabilities have been actively exploited as a part of targeted attacks around the world, and one of them is known to be ItW for at least six months or so.

The GDI+ update patches memory corruption vulnerability CVE-2013-3906, which we have been detecting as Exploit.Win32.CVE-2013-3906.a. We have seen a low number of ITW variations on exploitation of this vulnerability as a malformed TIFF file, all dropping backdoors like Citadel, the BlackEnergy bot, PlugX, Taidoor, Janicab, Solar, and Hannover. The target profile and toolset distribution related to these exploit attempts suggest a broad array of likely threat actors that got their hands on it since this July, and a wide reaching distribution chain that provided the exploit around the world. Considering the variety of uses and sources, this one may replace cve-2012-0158 as a part of targeted attacks in terms of overall volume.

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The Internet Explorer Bulletin fixes seven different elevation of privilege and memory corruption vulnerabilities, any one of which effects Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP SP 3 through Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows RT 8.1. We expect to see exploits for some of these vulnerabilities included in commodity exploit packs.

Finally, another critical vulnerability exists in the Windows Scripting Engine as yet another "use after free", which unfortunately enables remote code execution across every version of Windows out there and can be attacked via any of the common web browsers. Patch!

This post will likely be updated later today, but in the meantime, more about this month's patches can be found at the Microsoft site.

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Companies are increasingly falling victim to cyber-attacks. According to a recent survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, 9% of the organizations polled were the victims of targeted attacks - carefully planned activity aimed at infecting the network infrastructure of specific organization. The extensive use of digital devices in business has created ideal conditions for cyber-espionage and the deployment of malware capable of stealing corporate data.

The full report is available here.

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Two days ago FireEye reported that the recent CVE-2013-3906 exploit has begun to be used by new threat actors other than the original ones. The new infected documents share similarities with previously detected exploits but carry a different payload. This time these exploits are being used to deliver Taidoor and PlugX backdoors, according to FireEye.

At Kaspersky Lab we have also detected that yet another APT group has just started spreading malicious MS Word documents exploiting CVE-2013-3906. This APT actor is the Winnti group, which we described in detail here. They have sent spear-phishing emails with an attached document containing the exploit. As usual the Winnti perpetrators are trying to use this technique to deliver 1st stage malware - PlugX.

We became aware of an attack against one gaming company which constantly undergoes attacks from the Winnti group. The MS Word document containing the exploit shows the same TIFF picture - 7dd89c99ed7cec0ebc4afa8cd010f1f1 that triggers the exploitation of the vulnerability, as in the Hangover attacks. If the exploitation is successful, the PlugX backdoor is downloaded from a remote URL:


On November 5, Microsoft announced the discovery of a new vulnerability CVE-2013-3906 which can be exploited when TIFF images are processed. By exploiting this vulnerability it is possible to attack software – including Microsoft Office and Lync – that uses a vulnerable DLL for processing TIFF images. On the same day, there were reports that Microsoft had recorded attacks that exploit CVE-2013-3906.

Several malware samples became available to us that exploit CVE-2013-3906. We analyzed them in detail. All of them make use of heap spraying, recording their code to the address 0x08080808, and execute the code from that location. Exception generation and memory rewrite is performed in the vulnerable ogl.dll.

Fragment of WinDbg shellcode execution

The exploits that we had access to can be divided into two groups according to the shellcodes used in them.


The Ekoparty Security Conference 2013 was held in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 25 to 27 September, This event,the most important security conference in Latin America, is now in its ninth year and was attended by 1,500 people. The slogan of this years conference was Somebody is watching.

Virus Watch|Targeted exploit

Anton Ivanov
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted October 03, 14:00  GMT
Tags: Vulnerabilities and exploits

In September Microsoft published information about a new Internet Explorer vulnerability – CVE-2013-3893. The vulnerability affects IE versions 6 through 11 for platforms from Windows XP through Windows 8.1. Later in September, the company released a patch closing the vulnerability.

Cybercriminals are happy to exploit such vulnerabilities because they are easy to monetize – the Internet Explorer remains popular.

Top 5 browsers according to http://gs.statcounter.com

This type of vulnerability is very dangerous because it allows the execution of arbitrary code on the target system. In late September, we discovered an exploit for the vulnerability, which uses an attack of the Use After Free type against the Internet Explorer’s HTML rendering engine –mshtml.dll.

We have recently discovered that a modification of the exploit was used in targeted attacks against a number of high-profile organizations in Japan.

Targeted attack

The vulnerability is exploited only on those computers which are part of specific subnets of the target organizations’ networks:

Defining subnets in which computers will be attacked

If a computer’s IP address belongs to one of the ranges defined by the cybercriminals, the vulnerability will be exploited after a user visits an infected web page.

The following information is obtained in the first stage of the attack:

  • Operating system version
  • Internet Explorer version
  • Language used by the OS
  • Whether Microsoft Office is installed

The exploit selects the appropriate ROP chain and shellcode based on the data obtained in this stage:

Choice of ROP chain and shellcode

It is worth mentioning that the exploit will not work on those Windows 7 systems which do not have Microsoft Office installed.

Checking OS version and whether Microsoft Office is installed

This is because today’s operating systems include mechanisms that make exploiting vulnerabilities more difficult. One of such mechanisms is ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization). The exploit uses a clever trick to evade the mechanism: it loads a module compiled without ASLR support into the context of the browser process – the hxds.dll library.

Code after executing which hxds.dll is loaded

The library, which is part of the Microsoft Office package, does not support ASLR. It is loaded at known addresses in memory, after which the attackers use the ROP technology to mark the memory containing shellcode as executable.

The following shellcode is executed after the vulnerability has been successfully exploited:

It can be seen in the figure above that the shellcode decrypts its main part using 0x9F as key.

After decryption, the code searches for functions needed to download and launch the payload, finding them by their hashes:

Hashes of the functions used


When the search for the addresses needed is completed, the following activity takes place:

  1. a malicious object named “runrun.exe” is downloaded from the attackers’ server:

Downloading the payload

  1. Since the module downloaded is encrypted, the shellcode reads it from disk and decrypts it using 0x95 as key, after which the decrypted module is launched:

Decrypting the module downloaded

Distribution of the exploit

As mentioned above, the targeted attack used only one modification of the exploit for CVE-2013-3893. At the same time, the total number of modifications discovered to date amounts to 21. Attacks using this exploit have mostly been detected in Taiwan:

We have the following information on the servers from which the exploit’s payload has been downloaded:








A brief analysis of one of the payload’s variants (md5 - 1b03e3de1ef3e7135fbf9d5ce7e7ccf6) has shown that the executable module has encrypted data in its resources:

Encrypted data in the payload’s resources


The executable module extracts the data and converts it to a DLL module:

Extracting encrypted data


The DLL created by converting the data extracted from the payload is written to disk using the following path:
TempPath\tmp.dll (md5 - bf891c72e4c29cfbe533756ea5685314).

The library exports the following functions:

Functions exported by tmp.dll

When the library has been written to disk, it is loaded into the process’s address space and the ishk exported function is called:

Calling the ishk exported function

The library itself performs an injection into another process’s address space.

After launching, the malware communicates to a server in South Korea. The following requests are sent from the infected machine:

Requests sent from the infected machine

Kaspersky Lab detects the payload downloaded as Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jmli.

We detect the exploit as HEUR:Exploit.Script.Generic. 

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Microsoft releases a long list of security bulletins this month on the server and client side, patching a longer list of vulnerabilities in this month's array of technologies. Only four of the bulletins are rated "critical" this month: Internet Explorer, a variety of built-in Windows components, and Sharepoint and Office Web Services. Thirteen security bulletins are released in total, patching almost fifty vulnerabilities. Mostly every one of this month's vulnerabilities were reported privately, other than the XSS vulnerability in Sharepoint, which Microsoft claims would be difficult to exploit. In all likelihood, at some point Windows folks will have to reboot following download and install of around 100Mb of system updates this month.

For mass exploitation purposes, the most problematic issues have to do with Internet Explorer, with working exploits likely being developed in the near future to attack these memory corruption vulnerabilities. These are the sort of things that can happen to anyone online, so all Windows users should address them asap. These ten vulnerabilities enable remote code execution across all supported versions of IE across all Windows clients and servers, so most likely, they will receive immediate attention from the offensive security global peanut gallery.

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On the targeted attack side, Sharepoint and Web Office Service administrators need to be aware of the critical vulnerabilities addressed with the large cumulative update MS013-067. Flaws in this code base enable RCE that could be exploited with the spear phishing techniques very commonly and effectively in use.

Also problematic from both perspectives is this interesting Outlook update, which patches a flaw in Outlook 2007 and 2010 S/MIME handling. It can be triggered in preview mode, which seems to make this the first severe, potentially wormable issue seen in Outlook in years. Patch immediately.

The long list of important updates are presented at Microsoft's Technet site here.

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