Adobe Flash exploit targets security, public policy sites

The attackers appear to be gathering broad intelligence about visitors to three websites, FireEye says

Abobe planned to release an emergency update for Flash Player on Thursday, after security vendor FireEye pointed to a zero-day exploit used by attackers to target visitors to websites of three nonprofits, two of which focus on national security and public policy.

The Flash exploit allowed attackers to target users of the websites of the Peterson Institute for International Economics at PIIE.com, the American Research Center in Egypt at ARCE.org and the Smith Richardson Foundation at SFR.org. The exploit can compromise Flash users on Windows XP or those with Windows 7 who have Java 1.6 or an outdated version of Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 installed, FireEye said.

The attacks came by remote code injection, with visitors to the affected websites redirected to a server hosting the exploit through a hidden iframe, FireEye said. Representatives of the three websites didn't immediately respond to requests for comments on the attacks.

"We believe the group behind this campaign has sufficient resources ... and is committed to their mission of infecting visitors to a particular type of website," the security company said in its release on the exploit. "The threat actors likely sought to infect users to these sites for follow-on data theft, such as information relating to defense and public policy matters."

The attackers appear to be Chinese speakers and may be the same people engaged in a mid-2012 cyber-espionage campaign, FireEye said.

The attacks, dubbed "Operation GreedyWonk" by FireEye, appear to be focusing on "broad intelligence gathering efforts," Darien Kindlund, threat intelligence manager at FireEye, said via email. "Based on the websites compromised and the typical visitors to those websites, it seems they are currently focused on intel related to foreign and economic policy activities, at this time."

Adobe Thursday released a security bulletin for Flash Player 12.0.0.44 and earlier versions of the software for Windows and Macintosh, and Flash 11.2.202.336 and earlier versions for Linux. One of the patches is likely related to the exploit discovered by FireEye.

Windows users attempting to avoid the attack should consider upgrading from XP to a newer version of the operating system, updating Java, or updating their Office software, Kindlund said. They should also update Flash as soon as a fix is available, he said.

"Even with patching the OS and applications, the attacker could find another way to trigger the Flash vulnerability outside of the browser/apps listed," he said. "As such, the mitigations outlined in the blog are effective at countering the threat at a tactical level, but addressing the Flash vulnerability is still required, as the attacker could change tactics in their next wave of attacks."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftsecurityDarien KindlundAbobeFireEyeExploits / vulnerabilitiesinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?