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  1. Introduction Black markets deployed on anonymizing networks such as Tor and I2P offer all kinds of illegal products, including drugs and weapons. They represent a pillar of the criminal ecosystem, as these black markets are the privileged places to acquire illegal goods and services by preserving the anonymity of both sellers and buyers and making it difficult to track payment transactions operated through virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The majority of people ignore that one of the most attractive goods in the underground market are zero-day exploits, malicious codes that could be used by hackers to exploit unknown vulnerabilities in any kind of software. The availability of zero-day exploits is a key element for a successful attack. The majority of state-sponsored attacks that go undetected for years rely on the exploitation of an unknown flaw in popular products on the market and SCADA systems. Zero-day exploits: A precious commodity Security experts have debated on several occasions the importance of the zero-day exploitation to design dangerous software that could target any kind of application. Zero-day exploits are among the most important components of any cyber weapons, and for this reason they are always present in the cyber arsenals of governments. Zero-day exploits could be used by threat actors for sabotage or for cyber espionage purposes, or they could be used to hit a specific category of software (i.e. mobile OSs for surveillance, SCADA application within a critical infrastructure). In some cases, security experts have discovered large scale operations infecting thousands of machines by exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities in common applications (e.g. Java platform, Adobe software). A few days ago, for example, security experts at FireEye detected a new highly targeted attack run by the APT28 hacking crew exploiting two zero-day flaws to compromise an “international government entity.” In this case, the APT28 took advantage of zero-day vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash software (CVE-2015-3043) and a Windows operating system (CVE-2015-1701). Zero-day exploits are commodities in the underground economy. Governments are the primary buyers in the growing zero-day market. Governments aren’t the only buyers however, exploit kits including zero-day are also acquired by non-government actors. In 2013 it was estimated that the market was able to provide 85 exploits per day, a concerning number for the security industry, and the situation today could be worse. It has been estimated that every year, zero-day hunters develop a combined 100 exploits, resulting in 85 privately known exploits, and this estimation does not include the data related to independent groups of hackers, whose activities are little known. Zero-day hunters are independent hackers or security firms that analyze every kind of software searching for a vulnerability. Then this knowledge is offered in black marketplaces to the highest bidder, no matter if it is a private company that will use it against a competitor or a government that wants to use it to target the critical infrastructure of an adversary. A study conducted by the experts at NSS Labs in 2013 titled “The Known Unknowns” reported that every day during a period of observation lasting three years, high-paying buyers had access to at least 60 vulnerabilities targeting common software produced by Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. “NSS Labs has analyzed ten years of data from two major vulnerability purchase programs, and the results reveal that on any given day over the past three years, privileged groups have had access to at least 58 vulnerabilities targeting Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, or Adobe. Further, it has been found that these vulnerabilities remain private for an average of 151 days. These numbers are considered a minimum estimate of the ‘known unknowns’, as it is unlikely that cyber criminals, brokers, or government agencies will ever share data about their operations. Specialized companies are offering zero-day vulnerabilities for subscription fees that are well within the budget of. A determined attacker (for example, 25 zero-days per year for USD $2.5 million); this has broken the monopoly that nation states historically have held regarding ownership of the latest cyber weapon technology. Jointly, half a dozen boutique exploit providers have the capacity to offer more than 100 exploits per year.” On the black market, a zero-day exploit for a Windows OS sells for up to $250,000 according to BusinessWeek, a good incentive for hackers to focus their efforts in the discovery of this category of vulnerabilities. The price could increase in a significant way if the bugs affect critical systems and the buyer is a government that intends to use it for Information Warfare. What is very concerning is that in many cases, the professionals who discover a zero-day, in order to maximize gains, offer their knowledge to hostile governments who use it also to persecute dissidents or to attack adversary states. The zero-day market follows its own rules, the commodities are highly perishable, the transactions are instantaneous, and the agreement between buyers and sellers is critical. “According to a recent article in The New York Times, firms such as VUPEN (France), ReVuln (Malta), Netragard, Endgame Systems, and Exodus Intelligence (US) advertise that they sell knowledge of security vulnerabilities for cyber espionage. The average price lies between USD $40,000 and USD $160,000. Although some firms restrict their clientele, either based on country of origin or on decisions to sell to specific governments only, the ability to bypass this restriction through proxies seems entirely possible for determinedcyber criminals. Based on service brochures and public reports, these providers can deliver at least 100 exclusive exploits per year,” states the report. In particular, the US contractor Endgame Systems reportedly offers customers 25 exploits a year for $2.5 million. The uncontrolled and unregulated market of zero-day exploits pose a real threat for any industry. For this reason, security experts and government agencies constantly monitor its evolution. The zero-day market in the Deep Web: “TheRealDeal” marketplace Zero-day exploits have been available in several underground Deep Web marketplaces for a long time, and it is not difficult to find malicious codes and exploit kits in different black markets or hacking forums. Recently a new black market dubbed TheRealDeal has appeared in the Deep Web. The platform was designed to provide both sellers and buyers a privileged environment for the commercialization of precious goods. Figure – TheRealDeal Marketplace TheRealDeal (http://trdealmgn4uvm42g.onion) service appeared last month and it is focused on the commercialization of zero-day exploits. The singular marketplace is hosted on the popular Tor network to protect the anonymity of the actors involved in the sale of the precious commodity. The market offers zero-day exploits related to still unknown flaws and one-day exploits that have been already published, but are modified to be undetectable by defensive software. Figure – One-day private exploits The operators also offer one-day private exploits with known CVEs, but for which the code was never released. They also anticipated that a seller specialized in exploits for the GSM platform will soon offer a listing for some very interesting hardware. Who is behind TheRealDeal? The ‘deepdotweb’ website published an interview with one of the administrators of the black market who explained that the project is operated by four cyber experts with significant experience dealing in the “clearnet when it comes to zero-day exploit code, databases and so on.” The administrator explained that the greatest risk in commercializing zero-day exploits is that in the majority of cases, the code does not work or simply the sellers are scammers. Another factor that convicted the administrators to launch the TheRealDeal zero-day marketplace is the consideration that the places where it is possible to find the precious goods are not always easy to reach. There are some IRC servers that are not easy to find or that request an invitation. Differently, TheRealDeal wants to be an ‘open-market’ focused on zero-days. The four experts decided to launch the hidden service to create a marketplace where people can trade zero-day exploits without becoming a victim of fraud and while staying in total anonymity. “We started off by using BitWasp, fully aware of its history and flaws, but since we have years of hands-on experience in the security industry and not much in web-design we decided it would be a good platform since we can make our own security assessments and patches while the whole multi-sig seems to work perfect. We also wanted to avoid involving other people in the project for obvious reasons and that was another reason why not to hire a web designer etc… although we might hire one off the darknet soon, just to improve the UI a little,” said one of the administrators. Below is the list of products available on the TheRealDeal marketplace: 0-Day exploits (4) FUD Exploits (4) 1Day Private Exploits (1) Information (5) Money (36) Source Code (4) Spam (3) Accounts (7) Cards Other Tools (3) RATs (1) Hardware (2) Drugs Misc (6) Pharmacy (12) Cannabis (5) LSD (1) Shrooms (2) MDMA (6) Speed (5) Services (8) Weapons Hot (1) Cold (6) CNC Analyzing the product listing of TheRealDeal Market, it is possible to note the availability of zero-day exploits, which are source codes that could be used by hackers in cyber attacks, and of course any kind of hacking tool. The list is still short because the market is still in an embryonic stage, but the policy of its directors is clear. “Welcome…We originally opened this market in order to be a ‘code market’ — where rare information and code can be obtained,” a message from the website’s anonymous administrator reads. “Completely avoid the scam/scum and enjoy the real code, real information and real products.” Among the products there is a new method of hacking Apple iCloud accounts and exploit kits that could be used to compromise WordPress-based websites and both mobile and desktop OSs (i.e. Android and Windows). The price tag for the iCloud hack is $17,000, and as explained by the seller, it is possible to compromise any account. The buyer could pay in Bitcoin to make their identification difficult. “Any account can be accessed with a malicious request from a proxy account,” reads the description of the hack available on TheRealDeal marketplace. “Please arrange a demonstration using my service listing to hack an account of your choice.” Figure – Zero-day exploits The listing also includes an Internet Explorer attack that is offered for $8,000 in Bitcoin, as reported by Wired in a blog post: “Others include a technique to hack WordPress’ multisite configuration, an exploit against Android’s Webview stock browser, and an Internet Explorer attack that claims to work on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, available for around $8,000 in bitcoin … Found 2 months ago by fuzzing,” the seller writes, referring to an automated method of testing a program against random samples of junk data to see when it crashes. “0day but might be exposed, can’t really tell without risking a lot of money,” the seller adds. “Willing to show a demo via the usual ways, message me but don’t waste my time!” The list of products has been recently updated. It also includes an exploit for the MS15-034 Microsoft IIS Remote Code Execution vulnerability, a flaw that is being actively exploited in the wild against Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2. TheRealDeal market also offers other products very common in the criminal ecosystem, including drugs, weapons, and Remote Access Trojan (RAT). The operators also created a specific “services” category with the intent to attract high-profile black hats offering their hacking services (i.e. Email account takeover, DDoS services, data theft, hacking campaign). The Information category was created for sellers that offer any kind of information, documents, databases, secret keys, and similar products. TheRealDeal doesn’t implement a real escrow model; instead it adopts a multi-signature model to make any financial transaction effective. Basically, the buyer, the seller and the administrators control the amount of Bitcoin to transfer together, and any transaction needs the signature of two out of the three parties before funds are transferred. The administrators decided to implement multisig transactions because their marketplace is very young and without reputation. This means that people has no incentive to deposit a sum of money for something that they are not able to verify. It is curious to note that the marketplace also offers drugs due to high demand, but according to the administrators they might consider removing them in the future. There is also a “services” category – anything can go there, but we are hoping for some high quality blackhats to come forward and offer their services, anything from obtaining access to an email and getting a certain document and up to long term campaigns. The hardware category is for toys like fake cellular base stations and other physical ‘hacking’ tools. The information category is for any kind of information, documents, databases, secret keys, etc. In the following table are the principal product categories offered in the market and their prices. 0-Day exploits Apple id / iCloud remote exploit USD 17025,52 Internet Explorer <= 11 USD 7840,70 Android WebView 0day RCE USD 8176,73 WordPress MU RCE USD 1008,09 Category: FUD Exploits FUD .js download and execute USD 291,23 Adobe Flash < 16.0.0.296 (CVE-2015-0313) USD 560,05 Adobe Flash < 16.0.0.287 (CVE-2015-0311) USD 560,05 Category: 1Day Private Exploits MS15-034 Microsoft IIS Remote USD 42313,18 Category: Hardware A5/1 Encryption Rainbow Tables USD 67,21 Category: Source Code Banking malware source code USD 2,11 Alina POS malware full source code USD 0,92 Exploit Kits Source Code USD 1,82 “Start your own maket” code and server USD 7959,43 I’ll keep you updated on the evolution of the TheRealDeal marketplace in the next weeks. References http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/36098/cyber-crime/therealdeal-black-marketplace-exploits.html http://www.wired.com/2015/04/therealdeal-zero-day-exploits/ http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/14561/malware/zero-day-market-governments-main-buyers.html https://www.nsslabs.com/reports/known-unknowns-0 http://www.deepdotweb.com/2015/04/08/therealdeal-dark-net-market-for-code-0days-exploits/ Source
  2. AROUND THE SAME time the US and Israel were already developing and unleashing Stuxnet on computers in Iran, using five zero-day exploits to get the digital weapon onto machines there, the government realized it needed a policy for how it should handle zero-day vulnerabilities, according to a new document obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The document, found among a handful of heavily redacted pages released after the civil liberties group sued the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to obtain them, sheds light on the backstory behind the development of the government’s zero-day policy and offers some insight into the motivations for establishing it. What the documents don’t do, however, is provide support for the government’s assertions that it discloses the “vast majority” of zero-day vulnerabilities it discovers instead of keeping them secret and exploiting them. “The level of transparency we have now is not enough,” says Andrew Crocker a legal fellow at EFF. “It doesn’t answer a lot of questions about how often the intelligence community is disclosing, whether they’re really following this process, and who is involved in making these decisions in the executive branch. More transparency is needed.” The timeframe around the development of the policy does make clear, however, that the government was deploying zero-days to attack systems long before it had established a formal policy for their use. Task Force Launched in 2008 Titled “Vulnerability Equities Process Highlights,” (.pdf) the document appears to have been created July 8, 2010, based on a date in its file name. Vulnerability equities process in the title refers to the process whereby the government assesses zero-day software security holes that it either finds or buys from contractors in order to determine whether they should be disclosed to the software vendor to be patched or kept secret so intelligence agencies can use them to hack into systems as they please. The government’s use of zero-day vulnerabilities is controversial, not least because when it withholds information about software vulnerabilities to exploit them in targeted systems, it leaves every other system that use the same software also vulnerable to being hacked, including U.S. government computers and critical infrastructure systems. According to the document, the equities process grew out of a task force the government formed in 2008 to develop a plan for improving its ability “to use the full spectrum of offensive capabilities to better defend U.S. information systems.” Source
  3. Hackers are using a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash to infect systems with a dangerous BEDEP malware variant. Trend Micro research engineer Alvin Bacani reported uncovering the campaign in a threat advisory, proving that hackers began targeting the zero-day less than a week after its discovery. "Continuing our analysis of the recent Adobe zero-day exploit, we find that the infection chain does not end with the Flash exploit, detected as SWF_EXPLOIT.MJST. Rather, the exploit downloads and executes malware belonging to the BEDEP family," read the advisory. Trend Micro reported uncovering the Flash flaw on 2 February, warning that attackers could target victims with malvertising attacks. The flaw is originally believed to have been targeted by hackers using the Angler Exploit Kit to send malicious automatic pop-up adverts. Bacani explained that BEDEP employs the same malvertising infection tactic, but uses the Hanjuan exploit kit to connect victim machines to a criminal botnet. "Based on our analysis, the infection chain begins with a site that hosts malvertisements. As the name implies, these are infected online advertisements," read the advisory. "Our recent findings also show that the malware's main purpose is to turn infected systems into botnets for other malicious intentions. "Additionally, BEDEP is known for carrying out advertising fraud routines and downloading additional malware." The full scale of the campaign remains unknown and the nature of the BEDEP malware makes tracking the attacks difficult. "The fact that the payloads are encoded can be seen as one way of evading detection. An encoded payload will be difficult to identify when passing through the network layer, or when scanned in any layer in an encoded state," noted Bacani. "BEDEP initially came undetected and unnoticed due to its heavy encryption and use of Microsoft file properties for its disguise as well as the use of seemingly legitimate export functions." The flaw is one of three recently discovered Flash zero-day vulnerabilities. The first two were uncovered by Adobe in January and are known to have been actively targeted by hackers. Source
  4. Adobe Systems has made a patch available for a zero-day vulnerability in Flash Player that came under attack in recent days. The vulnerability, CVE-2015-0313, affects Adobe Flash Player 16.0.0.296 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, as well as Flash Player 13.0.0.264 and earlier 13.x versions. The vulnerability can be exploited to cause a crash and possibly take control of a vulnerable systems. So far, the vulnerability is known to have been used to target systems running Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows 8.1 and below. The bug has been linked to malvertising attacks. In the days since news broke of the vulnerability, security researchers have determined that the zero-day was being leveraged by a lesser known exploit called 'HanJuan' – not the Angler kit as some had previously thought. "Exploit kits are made of different parts that can be updated as time goes on," Malwarebyes Senior Security Researcher Jerome Segura blogged recently. "That is one critical part as most software programs evolve and new vulnerabilities are discovered. Since there is a high demand to have the most effective exploitation tools, there is a lot of money that goes into making the exploit kits better." The malvertising attack detected by Trend Micro impacted visitors to dailymotion.com, who were directed to a series of sites that ultimately led to the exploit kit. Malvertisements are an old style of malware delivery, but they remain incredibly notorious because websites have no choice but to load ads and trust whatever content is served by third parties, blogged Trend Micro Threats Analyst Brooks Li. Users, on the other hand, have no choice but to accept ads as a part of their everyday browsing experience as well, Li added. According to Adobe, users who have enabled auto-update for the Flash Player desktop runtime will be receiving version 16.0.0.305 beginning today to fix CVE-2015-0313. "Adobe expects to have an update available for manual download on February 5, and we are working with our distribution partners to make the update available in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and 11," according to Adobe. This vulnerability is the third Flash Player zero-day discovered in the past month that came under attack. In January, Adobe patched CVE-2015-0310, which could be used to circumvent memory randomization mitigations on Windows, as well as CVE-2015-0311, which could be leveraged to cause a crash or hijack a vulnerable system. Source: securityweek.com
  5. Security researcher Kafeine has discovered a Zero-Day in Adobe Flash Player distributed through the Angler Exploit Kit. Flash has been plagued with critical vulnerabilities in the past few months and surpassed the no longer popular Java as the most exploited plugin. We immediately got our hands on this new Zero-Day (thanks Kafeine) and were able to replay it as well with the goal of testing our Anti-Exploit product: Security researcher Kafeine has discovered a Zero-Day in Adobe Flash Player distributed through the Angler Exploit Kit. Flash has been plagued with critical vulnerabilities in the past few months and surpassed the no longer popular Java as the most exploited plugin. We immediately got our hands on this new Zero-Day (thanks Kafeine) and were able to replay it as well with the goal of testing our Anti-Exploit product: MarcinZeroDay With the latest version of Internet Explorer and latest version of Flash, the exploit was successfully blocked by Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit. On unprotected machines, the Angler Exploit Kit will install Bedep, a distribution botnet that can load multiple payloads on the infected host. As this is a breaking story, we are still analyzing the exploit and will update this post later accordingly. Update: 01/21/15: Some details about the malware payload. The payload in this particular instance was ad fraud. Upon infection, explorer.exe (not to be confused with iexplore.exe) is injected and performs the ad fraud calls. The following Fiddler capture shows how a zombie PC is gaming the ad networks with bogus requests without the victim’s knowledge: sursa:Malwarebytes team
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