Blackhole Exploit Kit creator arrested in Russia

After twenty-four hours of speculation, as well as a wall of silence from officials connected to the case, Europol's Troels Oerting, who is head of the European Cybercrime Center, has confirmed that 'Paunch' -- one of the people behind the creation and maintenance of the Blackhole Exploit Kit -- has been arrested in Russia.

[Source code and 2.9 million accounts raided by attackers in Adobe breach]

"I know it is true, we got some information, but I cannot say anymore," Oerting told TechWeekEurope in a brief statement.

According to data from security firms such as Symantec, F-Secure, ESET, Kaspersky, Bit Defender, McAfee, and others, the Blackhole Exploit Kit is the most popular crime kit on the Web, and is used daily to tens of thousands of people online. Blackhole is rented by criminals and those responsible for its maintenance offer updates and features on a regular basis. The kit itself can be used for a number of attacks, as it supports exploits for Windows, Adobe, and Java, as well as custom scripts and attacks.

With this arrest, the lack of updates will see existing exploits go stale, leading to a mass migration to other crime kit platforms. This is already happening in some instances, as one researcher spotted IFRAME injection points shift from Cool Exploit Kit (maintained by 'Paunch') to the Whitehole Exploit Kit.

Word of the arrest was first reported by Maarten Boone, a security researcher at Dutch security firm Fox-IT. Since Friday, updates to one of Blackhole's Java applet that 'Paunch' maintained has been idle, and the service used to encrypt exploits ( has been offline.

However, those examples aside, there was no official confirmation that the rumors of an arrest were true until Europol's comments early Tuesday morning. Authorities in Russia would not comment on the news, nor would they confirm or deny the arrest.

[WHMCS Zero-Day vulnerability used against PureVPN]

When asked for an opinion, a spokesperson for Symantec's Security Response told CSO that the arrest itself is significant, as Blackhole is one of the most dominant exploit kits in recent times.

"Due to the fact its update services and infrastructure are down, we can surmise it will have a significant impact to their operations. The reported arrest could result in all current Blackhole infection vectors going down and the trend should continue based on these assumptions... The threat landscape will not change, and those who are affected by this, will merely move onto another exploit kit."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

More about Adobe SystemsCSOEuropolF-SecureKasperskyMcAfee AustraliaSymantec

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Steve Ragan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts