Zero Day Java Vulnerability Exploited – Macs Infected With Flashback Malware

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Interesting timing this one, just a couple of days ago we reported – Avira Joins The Crowd & Starts To Offer Mac Antivirus Software – and now an unpatched vulnerability in Java for Mac OS that is being exploited in the wild.

The vulnerability (CVE-2012-0507) was patched in Java by Oracle back in February, but Apple roll their own Java for Mac OS and they haven’t rolled in this fix yet.

Flashback malware seems to be evolving pretty fast, it just shows that security in the Apple world is becoming a serious issue.

A Java vulnerability that hasn’t yet been patched by Apple is being exploited by cybercriminals to infect Mac computers with a new variant of the Flashback malware, according to security researchers from antivirus firm F-Secure.

Flashback is a computer Trojan horse for Mac OS that first appeared in September 2011. The first variant was distributed as a fake Flash Player installer, but the malware has been changed significantly since then, both in terms of functionality and distribution methods.

Back in February, several antivirus companies reported that a new Flashback version was being distributed through Java exploits, which meant that the infection process no longer required user interaction.

The Java vulnerabilities targeted by the February exploits dated back to 2009 and 2011, so users with up-to-date Java installations were protected.

However, that’s no longer the case with the latest variant of the malware, Flashback.K, which is being distributed by exploiting an unpatched Java vulnerability, security researchers from F-Secure said in a blog post Monday.

Oracle released a fix for the targeted vulnerability, which is identified as CVE-2012-0507, back in February and it was included in an update for the Windows version of Java.

People have called Apple out on this before, the lag between official patching of Java and the deployment of the safe version of Java on Mac OS can be months – a dangerous windows of opportunity of malware pimps to spread their wares.

You can disable Java in your browser though, if you’re a Mac user. Or just completely disable it from the OS, details here:

Mac Malware at the Moment

I’m not exactly sure how relevant Java is these days, there is the odd web-site with a Java applet – but it seems pretty rare on the whole.


However, since Apple distributes a self-compiled version of Java for Macs, it ports Oracle’s patches to it according to its own schedule, which can be months behind the one for Java on Windows.

Security experts have long warned that this delay in delivering Java patches on Mac OS could be used by malware writers to their advantage, and the new Flashback.K malware confirms that they were right.

After being dropped and executed on the system via the CVE-2012-0507 exploit, the new Trojan horse prompts a dialog window that asks the user for their administrative password.

Regardless of whether the user inputs the password or not, the malware still infects the system, F-Secure said in its description of the malware. The Trojan’s purpose is to inject itself into the Safari process and modify the contents of certain Web pages.

There are rumors that a new exploit for a different unpatched Java vulnerability is currently being sold on the underground market and could be used to target Mac users in a similar way in the future, the F-Secure researchers said.

“If you haven’t already disabled your Java client, please do so before this thing really become an outbreak,” they said. The antivirus company provides instructions on how to do this.

Apple stopped including Java by default in Mac OS X starting with version 10.7 (Lion). However, if Lion users encounter a Web page that requires Java, they are prompted to download and install the runtime and might later forget that they have it on their computers.

As we all know, Java is not exactly the most secure software on your computer – there have been multiple ’emergency’ patches for critical issues in Java in the last couple of years. It ranks up there with Flash and Adobe Acrobat for being the biggest threats to your machine.

As always – stay safe. Some more details here – Mac Flashback Exploiting Unpatched Java Vulnerability

Source: Network World

Posted in: Apple, Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Malware

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