A new version of the IcePack hacker tool kit has been released and for the first time it includes attack code designed to exploit an unpatched, or zero-day, Microsoft vulnerability.
Three of IcePack's eight exploit tools are new, said Roger Thompson, chief technology officer at Exploit Prevention Labs. "The mix of old and new exploits is to be expected, but three new ones in one update is pretty impressive," he noted.
The new tool kit also sports a first. "The closest to a tool-kit zero-day exploit [before] was for the ANI [animated cursor] vulnerability." said Thompson, pointing to an exploit that attacks a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft's DirectX software development kit (SDK).
He was referring to a Windows bug that surfaced in early April. By the time that Mpack, an IcePack predecessor, added the ANI exploit Microsoft had patched the vulnerability with an emergency out-of-cycle update.
The DirectX SDK bug was disclosed by Polish researcher Krystian Kloskowski in a post to the milw0rm.com site mid-August. Microsoft did not release a fix for the flaw in its regular monthly updates, issued earlier this week.
IcePack is only one of several click-to-attack malware tool kits in circulation. Derived from the earlier Mpack, IcePack joins others with monikers like NeoSploit and WebAttacker that cater to what Thompson called "lazy crooks".
"Originally there was just WebAttacker, but they screwed up and then NeoSploit came along," Thompson said. "Then there was Mpack, which everyone at first thought was just WebAttacker, but it wasn't. Now there's IcePack." He estimated 9-12 malware tool kits were currently in use.
"They all use very similar code, and they're all trying to make a buck out of selling to lazy crooks," said Thompson.
"This is not an end-of-the-world kind of thing, since not many people will have the DirectX SDK. But no one knows what other software packages use that [vulnerable] ActiveX control. It's a little like Russian roulette that way."
Other researchers confirmed Thompson's assessment. Symantec warned customers on its DeepSight threat network that it had spotted in-the-wild attacks using the DirectX exploit. Symantec's researchers also confirmed that the other two exploits new to IcePack target vulnerabilities in Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Widgets. Both of those bugs have been patched.
Taking aim at patched vulnerabilities is a common characteristic of multi-strike kits, even though it might seem counterintuitive, said Thompson. "They usually go after lesser-known vulnerabilities," he said. "They just want to shake a few apples from the tree, enough to make money. They don't want to bring down the whole branch."