The campaign has been dubbed ‘Operation DeputyDog’, and is believed to have begun as early as August 19. According to FireEye, the attackers behind the operation may be the same ones involved in last year’s attack on Bit9 (a group researchers at Symantec). FireEye recently identified as a hacking crew called Hidden Lynx.
According to Microsoft, the exposure exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that’s been deleted or hasn’t been properly allocated. The vulnerability could corrupt memory in a way that could permit an attacker to execute code in the context of the current user within IE.
“Despite the targeted nature of these attacks, the exploit identifies numerous language packs (en, zh, fr, de, ja, pt, ko, ru) and software versions, which is uses to specify the correct ROP chain,” FireEye noted in a blog post. “Commented-out code suggests that the exploit initially targeted IE8 XP users, and IE8 and IE9 Windows 7 users who also had MS Office 2007 installed. In our tests, we observed that the exploit ran successfully on systems running both MS Office 2007 and 2010.”
“This group doesn’t just limit itself to a handful of targets; instead it targets hundreds of different organizations in many different regions, even concurrently,” Symantec’s Security Response Team blogged. “Given the breadth and number of targets and regions involved, we infer that this group is most likely a professional hacker-for-hire operation that are contracted by clients to provide information. They steal on demand, whatever their clients are interested in, hence the wide variety and range of targets.”
“Upon performing filename similarity analysis from DTI [FireEye’s Dynamic Threat Intelligence], we looked for equivalent payload filenames likely used in these attacks on August 23, 2013, where the filename would have likely been img20130823.jpg,” FireEye noted. “Sure enough, we find a matching reference in DTI, where the malicious executable was hosted on a server in Hong Kong at 188.8.131.52/it/img20130823.jpg.”