21 June 2011 | 9,793 views

Hackers Exploiting Latest Adobe Flash Bug On Large Scale

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It’s very out of character for Adobe – but they’ve actually released two out of band patches in the last week or so.

They’ve had to patch 4 times in the past 2 months – that’s a total of 6 times in 2011 so far – with 5 out of those 6 being for critical bugs.

It seems like Flash has become a major target for hackers in the past 6 months or so, despite the fact that Adobe has worked with Google to sandbox Flash in the Chrome browser.

Hackers are aggressively exploiting a just-patched Flash vulnerability, serving attack code “on a fairly large scale” from compromised sites as well as from their own malicious domains, a security researcher said Friday. The attacks exploit the critical Flash Player bug that Adobe patched June 14 with its second “out-of-band,” or emergency update, in nine days.

“CVE-2011-2110 is being exploited in the wild on a fairly large scale,” said Steven Adair, a researcher with the Shadowserver Foundation, a volunteer-run group that tracks vulnerabilities and botnets. “In particular this exploit is showing up as a drive-by in several legitimate websites, including those belonging to various NGOs [non-government organizations], aerospace companies, a Korean news site, an Indian government Web site, and a Taiwanese university.”

CVE-2011-2110 is the identifier for the Flash vulnerability assigned by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database. Attackers are also using the exploit in “spear phishing” attacks aimed at specific individuals, said Adair on the Shadowserver site. Adair called the attacks “nasty” because the exploit “happens seamlessly in the background,” giving victims no clue that their systems have been compromised.

The CVE ID for this vulnerability is – CVE-2011-2110 with the NVD listing stating:

Adobe Flash Player before 10.3.181.26 on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris, and 10.3.185.23 and earlier on Android, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (memory corruption) via unspecified vectors, as exploited in the wild in June 2011.

Sounds pretty nasty, at least the patch is out for it – but as usual, how many people will apply it in a timely fashion?

When Adobe patched the vulnerability last week, it conceded that exploits were already in use.

Adair also said there’s been an increase in Flash-based attacks. “There has been an ongoing assault against Flash Player for several years now, but especially so in the last three months,” Adair said.

Adobe has patched Flash Player four times in the last two months, and six times so far this year. Of the six updates, five addressed “zero-day” bugs that attackers were already exploiting at the time the patches were issued.

Brad Arkin, Adobe’s director of product security and privacy, acknowledged the problems in keeping ahead of attackers, but blamed the popularity of Flash Player for the attention.

“The installed base [of Flash Player] is a real big part of it,” said Arkin. “It’s such a widely distributed technology that attackers find it worthwhile to invest the time to carry out some kind of malicious activity. They’re making an investment for the biggest return possible.”

Arkin also argued that attackers get more bang for their buck by rooting out Flash vulnerabilities than they do looking for bugs in individual browsers because virtually every personal computer has the Flash plug-in installed. “Flash is the code [used in the browser] that has the highest market penetration,” he said.

According to Adair, the exploit of CVE-2011-2110 has been in use since June 9, five days before Adobe issued its latest security update. Arkin corroborated that timeline.

Adobe does claim to be more pro-active about patching than Microsoft – which honestly isn’t really hard is it? Brad Arkin the head of security said:

I think we’re more aggressive than Microsoft, basically, if we have information about attacks in the wild, or if the information is out there on a mailing list — which means attacks are imminent — that tends to be a trigger for us to think about an out-of-band.

Do note they said ‘think’ about a patch though and not ‘issue’ one.

Source: Network World



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2 Responses to “Hackers Exploiting Latest Adobe Flash Bug On Large Scale”

  1. X 22 June 2011 at 9:09 am Permalink

    And yet Flash’s auto update feature only checks once a week.

  2. NNM 23 June 2011 at 2:45 pm Permalink

    I have a dream… That one day Adobe goes out of business….