Criminals weave Hacking Team’s Flash bug into attack kits 'within hours'

Cybercriminals have bundled in a newly discovered flaw in Adobe’s Flash Player just days after it was leaked by controversial Italian security vendor Hacking Team.

At least three online crime gangs have begun integrating a Flash Player flaw that was, until Sunday, used exclusively by government agencies that had paid Hacking Team for surveillance software underpinned by flaws the security company kept under wraps rather than disclosing to vendors of affected products.

Adobe on Wednesday raced out a patch for the vulnerability that affects the latest version of in Flash Player. Details of the bug surfaced on the web on Sunday among a 400GB bundle of data that a hacktivist stole and leaked from the Hacking Team. The firm has gained notoriety for allegedly selling exploits to government agencies around the world for use in surveillance operations, some against political dissidents.

Adobe noted in an advisory on Tuesday that an attacker who exploited the flaw -- now with the identifier CVE-2015-5119-- "could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”

The flaw affected all versions of Flash Player below 18.0.0.194 on Windows, Mac and Linux machines.

The Hacking Team reserved exploits for flaws like this for clients that were in some cases paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Upon the discovery of details of the exploit for Flash Player among the files, security firm Symantec warned that cybercriminals would rush to incorporate them into exploit kits that are designed for mass exploitation of vulnerable software.

Symantec’s prediction was on the mark, according to independent malware researcher Kafeiene, who discovered that cybercriminals were working to include them in their own products almost immediately after the leak.

“As we were all expecting, integration in exploit kits was a matter of hours and it looks like Angler [exploit kit] team is at it,” Kafeine noted on Tuesday.

According to Kafeine, hackers behind the Fiddle and Neutrino exploit kits were also quick to jump on the specific Flash Player flaw, integrating it into their respective crimeware kits.

The rapid uptake of the flaw by cybercriminals serves as a reminder why some in the security profession argue security researchers should disclose new flaws to the vendor of an affected product rather than keeping it under wraps and selling that knowledge to the highest bidder.

Adobe on Wednesday also released patches to address 36 other critical vulnerabilities affecting Flash Player, though the company only said it was aware the bug found in the Hacking Team leak being exploited.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Read more: A World without Identity and Access Governance

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Tags MacLinuxAdobe’s Flash Playersurveillance softwaregovernment agenciesWindowsvulnerability scanningcybercriminalsHacking TeamCSO AustraliaFlash bug

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