Expect a wave of Java applet attacks: Microsoft

Exploit kits like Java flaw CVE-2012-5076.

Image credit: Deep End Research.

The big exploit kits that automate mass malware infections have quickly incorporated a Java Runtime Environment vulnerability Oracle disclosed in October, according to security researchers.

It’s taken just a few weeks for Java flaw CVE-2012-5076 to be added to the most widely-used exploit kit, Blackhole, but it’s just one of a handful that now look for vulnerable installations of Java 7.

The flaw, which Oracle gave the highest severity rating last month, has also been adopted by the exploit kits Cool. Sakura, Nuclear, Sweet Orange and “sibhost” -- a kit that pushes two prominent varieties of ransomware, Urausy and Reveton, according to malware researcher @Kafiene.

“CVE-2012-5076 is being adopted in a massive and fast way. We can see the same kind of spreading as for CVE-2012-4681 at end of August 12,” Kafiene posted in a blog over the weekend.

The Java zero day CVE-2012-4681 was initially used in targeted attacks that were traced back to remote access tools (RATs) from China. Oracle patched the flaw four days after security vendors confirmed attacks that used the flaw.

The newer vulnerability only affects unpatched Java 7 but most of the malware that use this vulnerability contain exploits for Java 6 too, according to an analysis of one sample by Microsoft malware researcher Jeong Wook (Matt) Oh.

“From what we have seen in the last few months, we expect to see more and more exploits abusing this vulnerability. So, users should be prepared for this threat."

The only upshot from the emergence of exploit kits that use the latest Java flaw is that unlike the August threat, Oracle had already issued a patch before malware sightings.

The sample Microsoft analysed was detected by 20 out of 44 antivirus products, according to Virus Total.

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