Few Days ago, a Trend Micro Research Paper on the Russian Underground gave a scary landscape of the Underground Black Market showing that every hacking tool and service can be found at dramatically cheap prices in a sort of democratization of Cyber Crime.
Today the news related to the discovery of an unknown 0-day vulnerability targeting Adobe Reader X and XI, confirms that the underground market follows the same rules than the real economy: premium products (read 0-day vulnerabilities) are not for every wallet and if you want a brand new 0-day you must be able to pay up to $50.000.
This is the price at which the previously unidentified Adobe vulnerability is sold according to Malware analysts at Moscow-based forensics firm Group-IB, who have discovered it. The price is justified since this is really a “premium exploit”: in fact beginning with Reader X (June 2011), Adobe introduced a sandbox feature further enhanced in Adobe XI (only three weeks ago). The Sandbox is aimed at blocking the exploitation of previously unidentified security flaws and has proven to be particularly robust: Adobe claimed that since its introduction in Adobe Reader and Acrobat X, they have not seen any exploits in the wild capable of breaking out of it. At least until yesterday.
This makes this 0-day particularly meaningful… And expensive, even if it has some limitations (for example, cannot be fully executed until the user closes his Web browser, or Reader).
Of course cyber criminals did not waste time and Group-IB says the vulnerability is included in a new, custom version of the Blackhole Exploit Kit (apparently it has not been still included in the official version).
And Adobe? So far they have not received any details: “We saw the announcement from Group IB, but we haven’t seen or received any details. Adobe has reached out to Group-IB, but we have not yet heard back. Without additional details, there is nothing we can do, unfortunately—beyond continuing to monitor the threat landscape and working with our partners in the security community, as always.”
This information security week has offered many interesting points: the brand new CRIME attack against SSL/TLS, the release of BlackHole Exploit Kit 2.0 that promises new stealth vectors of Drive-By download infections, the takedown of the emerging Nitol botnet by Microsoft, and, last but not least, the first (?) known example of a new generation of a C&C Server leveraging the anonymization granted by Tor Service.
The latter is in my opinion the news with the most important consequences for the Information Security community, since delineates the next step of Botnets’ evolution, after the common, consolidated, C&C communication schema, and its natural evolution consisting in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) communication.
The first (I wonder if it is really the first) discovery of a Botnet command server hidden in Tor, using IRC protocol to communicates with its zombies, has been announced in a blog post by G-Data. Of course the advantages of such a similar communication schema are quite simple: the Botnet may use the anonymity granted by the Deep Web to prevent the identification and the likely takedown of the server, and the encryption of the Tor protocol to make traffic identification harder by traditional layers of defense. Two advantages that greatly exceed the Tor latency which represents the weakness of this communication schema.
Maybe it was only a matter of time, in any case it is not a coincidence that in the same weeks researchers have discovered BlackHole 2.0 and the first (maybe) C&C infrastructure hidden inside the Deep Web: Cyber Criminals are continuously developing increasingly sophisticated methods to elude law enforcement agencies and to evade the security controls of the traditional bastions, and the botnets are confirming more than ever to be the modern biblical plague for the Web…
And even if every now and then good guys are able to obtain a victory (as the Nitol takedown), the war is far from over.