With the most recent Oracle Critical Patch Update that addresses Java CVE-2015-4902, we have the second Pawn Storm-related vulnerability to be patched in less than a week. This also fixes the second Java vulnerability in use in zero-day attacks related to Pawn Storm since July 2015.
In total, Trend Micro’s Vulnerability Research Teams, working with our Forward-Looking Threat Research Team (FTR) have found three vulnerabilities used in zero-day attacks as part of the Pawn Storm campaign since July:
We have been tracking Pawn Storm closely for over a year now. Over that year, as the Pawn Storm attackers have changed up their game, we’ve seen two things consistently:
The attackers have also shown they are aware of our work, redirecting a domain that once hosted the Java zero-day to point to Trend Micro IPs in July.
In the area of attacking vulnerabilities, the Pawn Storm attackers have shown themselves to be especially skilled. As our analysis of both the Oracle Java and Adobe Flash show, the attackers are using very advanced attack techniques. In Java they were able to circumvent click to play, which has helped protect Java from these sorts of attacks for nearly two years. In the case of Flash, they found a way to bypass the Vector<*> mitigation technology developed jointly by Adobe and Google for the first time (that we know of). In both cases, specific mitigation technologies that have helped protect against attacks failed to protect against Pawn Storm attacks.
Fortunately, Trend Micro customers in particular have benefitted from our ongoing work around Pawn Storm. While we have worked with Oracle and Adobe responsibly, we have been able to provide protections for customers using our Deep Security and other products ahead of the vendor patches. This is standard practice with companies that have vulnerability research capabilities. This highlights another benefit to our customers from our broad expertise and capabilities. In addition the existing Sandbox with Script Analyzer engine, which is part of Trend Micro™ Deep Discovery, can be used detect attacks against the Adobe Flash or Oracle Java vulnerabilities by its behavior without any engine or pattern updates: that technology simply protects out of the box.
There is no indication that Pawn Storm will be coming to an end anytime soon. The most likely thing we can expect next out of Pawn Storm is for attacks to continue and continue growing in sophistication. This means that political, military and diplomatic organizations in the United States and other NATO countries in particular should continue to be on alert for possible attacks. On our side, we will continue the work we’ve been doing for the past year: tracking and thwarting these attacks.
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