Flash cache exploit debuts in Amnesty attack

Cash from chaos


Miscreants have deployed a subtle variant of the well established drive-by-download attack tactics against the website of human rights organisation Amnesty International.

In traditional drive-by-download attacks malicious code is planted on websites. This code redirects surfers to an exploit site, which relies on browser vulnerabilities or other exploits to download and execute malware onto visiting PCs.

The attack on the Amnesty website, detected by security firm Armorize, relied on a different sequence of events. In this case, malicious scripts are used to locate the malware which is already sitting in the browser's cache directory, before executing it.

This so-called drive-by cache approach make attacks harder to detect because no attempt is made to download a file and write it to disk, a suspicion manoeuvre many security software packages are liable to detect. By bypassing this step dodgy sorts are more likely to slip their wares past security software undetected.

The Amnesty International attack ultimately relied on an Adobe Flash zero-day exploit, patched by Adobe late last week, with the ultimate aim of dropping a backdoor on compromised machines.

A full write-up of the attack, analysing the code involved and explaining the concept of drive-by cache attacks in greater depth, can be found on the Armorize blog here.

It's at least the second time in six months Amnesty International's website has attacked its visitors. In November, visitors to the group's Hong Kong website were bombarded with a host of potent exploits, including one that targeted what was then a critical zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • World’s smallest remote-controlled robots are smaller than a flea
    So small, you can't feel it crawl

    Video Robot boffins have revealed they've created a half-millimeter wide remote-controlled walking robot that resembles a crab, and hope it will one day perform tasks in tiny crevices.

    In a paper published in the journal Science Robotics , the boffins said they had in mind applications like minimally invasive surgery or manipulation of cells or tissue in biological research.

    With a round tick-like body and 10 protruding legs, the smaller-than-a-flea robot crab can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The machines can move at an average speed of half their body length per second - a huge challenge at such a small scale, said the boffins.

    Continue reading
  • IBM-powered Mayflower robo-ship once again tries to cross Atlantic
    Whaddayaknow? It's made it more than halfway to America

    The autonomous Mayflower ship is making another attempt at a transatlantic journey from the UK to the US, after engineers hauled the vessel to port and fixed a technical glitch. 

    Built by ProMare, a non-profit organization focused on marine research, and IBM, the Mayflower set sail on April 28, beginning its over 3,000-mile voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. But after less than two weeks, the crewless ship broke down and was brought back to port in Horta in the Azores, 850 miles off the coast of Portugal, for engineers to inspect.

    With no humans onboard, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) can only rely on its numerous cameras, sensors, equipment controllers, and various bits of hardware running machine-learning algorithms to survive. The computer-vision software helps it navigate through choppy waters and avoid objects that may be in its path.

    Continue reading
  • Revealed: The semi-secret list of techs Beijing really really wishes it didn't have to import
    I think we can all agree that China is not alone in wishing it had an alternative to Microsoft Windows

    China has identified "chokepoints" that leave it dependent on foreign countries for key technologies, and the US-based Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) claims to have translated and published key document that name the technologies about which Beijing is most worried.

    CSET considered 35 articles published in Science and Technology Daily from April until July 2018. Each story detailed a different “chokepoint” or tech import dependency that China faces. The pieces are complete with insights from Chinese academics, industry insiders and other experts.

    CSET said the items, which offer a rare admission of economic and technological vulnerability , have hitherto “largely unnoticed in the non-Chinese speaking world.”

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022