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Crime Security

Blackhole Exploit Kit Successor Years Away 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-villian-please dept.
msm1267 writes "The Blackhole Exploit Kit has been out of commission since October when its alleged creator, a hacker named Paunch, was arrested in Russia. The kit was a favorite among cybercriminals who took advantage of its frequent updates and business model to distribute financial malware to great profit. Since the arrest of Paunch, however, a viable successor has yet to emerge--and experts believe one will not in the short term. This is partially the reason for the increase in outbreaks of ransomware such as CryptoLocker as hackers aggressively attempt to recover lost profits."
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Blackhole Exploit Kit Successor Years Away

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  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @09:06PM (#45903393)

    This isn't a story about wormholes and warp drive? It's just a story about hackers?

    What a gyp!

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      What, you'd rather have kits to create blackholes around? I think the fact that it's hard to create a black hole at will is a feature rather than a bug.
    • This isn't a story about wormholes and warp drive? It's just a story about hackers?

      IMHO, the title of the article should have been "Blackhole Exploit Kit Successor Light years Away".

  • Come 90 days when 30% of all computers [neowin.net] gets death by 1,000 fire ants with exploits all at once.

    Especially since MSE wont wont save these users either [neowin.net].

    Popcorn time, or an oh shit time if the internet potentially goes offline due to 260,000,000 infected bots.

    • I'm still trying to figure the "gets death by 1,000 fire ants" part.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        ... 1,000 script kiddies with XP 0 day exploits

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @09:19PM (#45903457)

    Let's face it, these professional exploit writers are not "years away" from their next great product. They don't stand idly by thinking they are winning. They continue to develop and hone their craft.

    These new 'crypto locker' products are problematic and are going to wreak a lot of havoc on people. And while we security folks are battling the latest lock schlock the exploiteers are just waiting for us to get a handle on things so they can throw us the next curveball.

    And let's not forget that the end of support for XP is coming in April. Whatever they have been holding back for XP's independence will show up soon after Microsoft finally sets XP adrift on an ice raft.

    • by Cryacin (657549) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @09:30PM (#45903525)
      One company's malware is another company's upgrade incentive.
      • by plover (150551) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @01:39AM (#45904523) Homepage Journal

        It certainly won't get Grandma to update her Windows XP box. "You mean the emails and internets machine? I don't do anything with that."

        A million zombies strong - and growing.

        • A million zombies strong - and growing.

          Yes, and we should shame Grandma because she can't afford to plop down several grand on a Windows 8 license, new computer, and internet connection on her fixed income which barely pays for her medications and food. That seems legit.

          Hey, asshole -- here's the reality: Most of those "zombie" machines aren't because Grandma is being a bitch, but because Microsoft and other vendors are. It's called forced obsolescence. I can still drive a Model T on the highway; the infrastructure hasn't changed. Computers can

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Yes, and we should shame Grandma because she can't afford to plop down several grand on a Windows 8 license, new computer, and internet connection on her fixed income which barely pays for her medications and food. That seems legit.

            Ah, it is good to see that you are back with your outlandish statements and disproportionate replies to innocuous statements.

          • I can still drive a Model T on the highway;

            If it's a "classic car" they let you just ignore all the safety standards? And would it run on unleaded?

            • by swillden (191260)

              I can still drive a Model T on the highway;

              If it's a "classic car" they let you just ignore all the safety standards?

              Yes, actually. If the original vehicle didn't have air bags, seat belts, turn signals, etc., you're not required to have them. I think if you could find a vehicle that were made without headlamps it would be illegal to drive it at night, and if it couldn't manage the minimum speed you couldn't drive it on the freeway, but mostly you can just ignore all the safety standards implemented after the vehicle was made.

              And would it run on unleaded?

              They'll all run on unleaded, but there can be problems, mostly with overheated valves that fuse a

          • by plover (150551)

            I wasn't blaming Grandma. I'm simply pointing out reality: a lot of boxes are never going to be updated by their owners because they don't see the need. Asking them to see the need will get you nowhere, too.

            I'm with you: it's not her fault. But somehow we have to deal with this. And Microsoft is walking away from the problem they caused.

            • MS should put a pop up mentioning EOL for several weeks for home users.

              Grandma doesn't go to slashdot.org and how should she know?

          • Yeah I am sure Ford would be happy to give you free model T parts that wear out for life FOREVER!

            My Android got EOL just 2 years after I bought it for $700 (the same cost as Grandma's computer). Don't tell me MS is the all sooo horrible and mean bad guy because after a mere 13 years people will have to stop relying on free updates for an OS that was made for dialup and AOL where security meant blocking a port with a good password and nothing more.

            Sure your employer (a very cheap financial institution) may n

    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @09:36PM (#45903563)

      Let's face it, these professional exploit writers are not "years away" from their next great product.

      And also don't forget - a *truly* great exploit kit is completely unknown to security researchers and the press. Once it's existence is known, it becomes much less useful.

      • by swillden (191260)

        Let's face it, these professional exploit writers are not "years away" from their next great product.

        And also don't forget - a *truly* great exploit kit is completely unknown to security researchers and the press. Once it's existence is known, it becomes much less useful.

        I don't think that follows. Access by security researchers to the latest version of the kit, so they can analyze it and include countermeasures in the operating systems it attacks, that makes it much less useful. But mere knowledge of its existence doesn't damage its utility, and may enhance its saleability.

    • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @09:50PM (#45903635)

      If you bothered to read the article, you'd note that in the first two paragraphs they mention that they are arguing not that there won't be any replacements available for a few years, but that it will take a few years for one of the many alternatives to rise to dominance.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, "dominance" is not all it's cracked up to be. With several different complex exploit kits out there the security industry will have to focus on all of them at once which serves to "divide and conquer" those trying to stop the spread of these malicious offenders.

        Many battles on many fronts is not good for the white hats.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What needs to be done is not to focus on the rootkit exploits, but to focus on the security holes. Lock those down, and it doesn't matter what the bad guys do, exploit-wise.

          In my experience, what serves up malware the most are ad sites. Slapping on AdBlock and NoScript does far more (in my experience) for security than any AV utility (except Malwarebytes because it actually blocks by IP address) has ever done. The people who run the ad servers seem to not give a shit about security, and it affects everyo

      • Depends, really. Right now the NSA has a lot of brand recognition, so if they market their tools with a recognisable logo they could dominate the global market in a month, tops. They should hire Bill Gates to head their malware product division, I'm sure they could make him an offer he can't refuse.
    • by mlts (1038732) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @12:18AM (#45904287)

      IMHO, what we have seen in the CryptoLocker game is just the beginning. We have close to a perfect storm here -- Bitcoin being a currency that is easy to use no matter where one is, provided Internet access is obtainable [1]. For the most part, security is a joke because people/businesses either don't care, view it as having no ROI, or just view it will happen to "the other guy." Unlike incoming Internet connections which will get stopped by at the minimum, a perimeter firewall, the untrusted code on an external web page makes it well into the depths of a company. Most companies might have something to block the nudie pics, or use a device to force all SSL transactions to go through a transparent listening/MITM proxy (BlueCoat for example), but usually that is the extent of how far they go. Blocking suspect malware IP addresses tends to be rare unless a company is on top of their game.

      With this in mind, it might take a single browser or add-on weakness for an organization to get malware deployed. Since most Web browsers run as the user, it means the malware usually ends up with a full unlimited user context. Barring Web based malware, there is always the good old fashioned "foo.pdf .exe" Trojan.

      CryptoLocker is just version 2.0 (v1.0 being the early ransomware with an easily factored key being the same, or a flimsy encryption algorithm.)

      I can see RansomWare 3.0, if it manages to get root/Administrator authority, installing a low level driver. It will encrypt files, and backup programs will back up the encrypted stuff (a la Microsoft's EFS), but the user won't know because the driver will allow reading/writing for a period of time. Then, after a cutoff date, the private key is wiped, and the driver is dropped from the system. This not just encrypts the files that are accessible, but it also ensures that recent backups will be completely and utterly useless for restores. The private key can also just never be stored on disk, and quietly fetched from the malware owner's website every time the machine reboots.

      To boot, the software will detect where the software is installed and base the ransom of where it is located. If a police station, the demand to release all prisoners in the county jail can be made. A government office means that the criminals can demand someone be fired. At the extreme, if the files locked up are valuable enough, the organization can demand an execution of someone they don't like.

      Now the question -- how can we prevent this. Well, it costs money. Someone can invent software that can check backups and detect files that were encrypted, but in reality, it means RansomWare 3.1 will just encrypt the file in a valid .doc, .xls, or other format. It will take keeping a round of backups for a long time. It will take better heuristics so an AV utility [2] can detect some process fiddling over time with files and stop it. It might even require machines be rebooted from offline media and scanned in that condition, and instead of a scan looking for anything out of the ordinary, the reverse happening -- a scan looking for anything that isn't a signed binary or valid Registry entry in order to find rootkits (assuming ones that just don't exist in RAM.) It might even require a new computer architecture with a hypervisor that can suspend the entire machine, then scan the RAM image and the disk every so often.

      [1]: BitCoin isn't anonymous, but there are a growing number of "wallet mixing"/laundering services popping up. I'm sure a lot of them likely will just make off with any coins they get (a "100% commission"), but even if a fraction if the haul gets handed to the person coming up to the table, it can still be a good haul for the person trying to launder.

      [2]: AV utilities tend to be a joke, but we can hope they might do the job.

      • by dave562 (969951)

        You have a creative mind, but this has already been solved by non-persistent disks.

        • by Spamalope (91802)

          You have a creative mind, but this has already been solved by non-persistent disks.

          If your files and backups have been transparently encrypted for 6 months to a year that will not help you one bit. The key was on a malware server, and only copied to ram so your backup has no copy of the key. Your backups and off line disks newer than a year (or as long as the ransom folks care to wait) are all encrypted.

          installing a low level driver. It will encrypt files, and backup programs will back up the encrypted stuff (a la Microsoft's EFS), but the user won't know because the driver will allow reading/writing for a period of time.

          In the enterprise, incremental datastore backups as with PHDvirtual would save pre-infection data as long as your backup retention is long enough but the damage would still be severe. Usin

          • by dave562 (969951)

            You are still way off base. Changes made to a VM with a non-persistent disk are not written to the disk itself. They are written to a temp file and then discarded when the VM is powered off.

            The ransomware that you describe cannot persist across reboots. It can encrypt the the hell out of the entire VM, and there will be a large encrypted temp file created, but that file will be dumped as soon as the VM reboots.

            http://virtualization-tips.blogspot.com/2013/01/persistent-and-non-persistent.html [blogspot.com]

      • by xenobyte (446878)

        It strikes me that the solution is virtual disposable machines. Most advanced malware won't run on a virtual machine in order to make reverse engineering difficult, and the data can be continously verified from the outside, and data is stored on devices using a separate OS. If a file with a well-known extension suddenly appears encrypted then you know something's afoot and catch things right away.

  • One person? All the crime?

  • Sweet Memories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lisias (447563)

    When I was young and naive, and my worst worry was the Back Orifice from The Cult of the Dead Cow. :-)

    • by myowntrueself (607117) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @01:02AM (#45904413)

      I once ran a back orifice honeypot (fakebo) :) It was fun. The 'hackers' who took the bait would spend hours poking around in a virtual back orifice server. Some of them figured out it was a honeypot and left little messages for me ranging from "YOU BASTARD YOU MADE ME WASTE 2 HOURS OF MY LIFE!" to "Wow I finally figured out that this was a honeypot, very cool!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Cult of the Dead Cow. ..... now that's a name I've not heard in ages.

  • is already underway. You just don't know it yet.

  • Not Hackers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ilikenwf (1139495) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @01:28AM (#45904497)
    People who do this aren't hackers, they're degenerate criminals. Hacking doesn't mean cybercrime, and I resent the assumption that it does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by plover (150551)

      People who do this aren't hackers, they're degenerate criminals.

      What exactly is a generate criminal, and how do they differ from degenerate criminals?

      • by Maritz (1829006)
        A degenerate [wikipedia.org] criminal is not quite massive enough to override the Pauli exclusion principle and form a Black Hole rootkit. Frankly, criminal neutron stars are quite enough, thank you!

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