Posted by Virus Bulletin on May 9, 2013
CVE-2013-1347 used in watering hole attacks.
Following this weekend's discovery of a new zero-day vulnerability in version 8 of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, the company has released a 'fix-it' that addresses the known attack vectors.
Last week (ironically on Labour Day), researchers at AlienVault discovered that the website of the US Department of Labor had been compromised and was serving malware via a drive-by download. It was believed to be exploiting CVE-2012-4792, a vulnerability in Internet Explorer versions 6 through 8, which was discovered late last year and has since been patched.
However, upon further investigation, it was discovered that the site actually exploited a new, previously undiscovered vulnerability. The new vulnerability (CVE-2013-1347) only affects Internet Explorer 8 and allows for the execution of arbitrary code. AlienVault says that at least nine other sites have been found serving the same malware.
Researchers at Invincea point out that the infected page contained information for employees at another US government department, the Department of Energy - more particularly researchers being exposed to radiation. It is not hard to imagine why such researchers are likely targets of cyber-espionage campaigns, making this an example of a 'watering hole' attack: the infection of a site likely to be visited by the target(s).
As the exploit has now been added to the Metasploit Framework, a tool commonly used for penetration testing, it may be only a matter of days before it ends up being widely used in exploit kits. Thankfully, Microsoft's fix-it can be installed with a single click and doesn't require the computer to be rebooted - the company promises a full patch to follow later.
More at the Microsoft Security Response Center blog here.
There are many similarities between the story of CVE-2013-1347 and that of another vulnerability, CVE-2012-4792. VB2013 will feature a presentation by Jindrich Kubec (AVAST Software) and Eric Romang (EBRC Luxembourg) describing the early development of a watering hole campaign based on CVE-2012-4792, which targeted energy industries, governments, non-profit organizations and human rights websites.