Massive Flash exploit campaign directed at Japan seeks financial data

Legitimate websites in Japan have been compromised to serve up malicious code, Symantec said

An Adobe Flash player vulnerability is being used in attacks on a massive scale against Web users, mostly in Japan, to collect online banking details, according to new research from Symantec.

On Monday and Tuesday, Symantec detected more than 14,000 attacks against Japanese Web users using the flaw, wrote Joji Hamada on the company's blog. Although attacks have been detected elsewhere, 94 percent of those Symantec has seen were directed at Japan.

Why Japanese users seem to be targeted the most is unclear. Hamada wrote that the attack code exploiting the Flash vulnerability has been planted on legitimate websites that have been hacked, including a travel agency, a blog service and a video-sharing service.

"The attacks are typically carried out through drive-by download and leverage compromised legitimate websites to host malicious code," he wrote. "The websites then redirect traffic to a malicious site prepared by the attacker."

Adobe patched the vulnerability (CVE-2014-0515) on April 28, which was detected by a Kaspersky Lab researcher in mid-April after it was being used in attacks.

Hundreds of millions of computers run Flash worldwide. Adobe has tried to make patching easier for its users by prompting them to update the program when it releases updates. But users must still download the patch, close their browser and apply the update. Attackers are hoping people don't bother and dismiss the prompt.

Hamada wrote unpatched computers that fall into the trap are delivered Infostealer.Bankeiya.B, which is malicious software that runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems. It collects online banking credentials by monitoring activity in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

"The malware can also update itself, enabling it to target more banks and add more capabilities in order to perform additional malicious actions," he wrote.

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