Hackers ramp up Facebook, MySpace attacks

Five-exploit toolkit includes code aimed at Image Uploader ActiveX control

Hackers are actively exploiting an Internet Explorer plug-in that's widely used by Facebook and MySpace members with a multi-attack kit, a security company has warned.

The exploit directed at Aurigma's Image Uploader, an ActiveX control used by Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites to allow members to upload photos to their profiles, is just one of five in a new hacker toolkit being used by several Chinese attack sites, said Symantec.

Attacks begin when users receive spam or an instant message with an embedded link, said Darren Kemp, the Symantec analyst who authored the advisory. The link takes users to a bogus MySpace log-in page, which tries to steal members' credentials as it also silently probes the their computers for vulnerabilities in Uploader, Apple's QuickTime, Windows and Yahoo Music Jukebox.

Although the Windows and QuickTime bugs were patched 8 and 13 months ago respectively, the Uploader and Yahoo vulnerabilities were made public and fixed only within the last few weeks. Kemp noted the hackers' fast reaction time. "[This demonstrates] how quickly attackers are leveraging new vulnerabilities," said Kemp. "It is unlikely that attackers will stop trying to leverage this vulnerability any time soon."

The Aurigma bug was disclosed at the end of January by researcher Elazar Broad; shortly after that, a spokeswoman for Facebook and MySpace claimed that the social networking sites were alerting members of the danger. New bugs cropped up a week later, however, forcing Aurigma to again patch the ActiveX control. Not until February 13 did the company claim "Image Uploader is safe again!"

Yahoo, meanwhile, plugged a pair of holes in Music Player on February 6, two days after Broad published attack code for both.

Symantec has been tracking attacks against the Aurigma vulnerabilities most of the month. More than three weeks, ago, for example, another of its analysts reported seeing evidence of a new multi-exploit hacker toolkit -- presumably the same one analyzed by Kemp -- that included an Image Uploader attack.

Exploits against ActiveX controls are nothing unusual; scores of bugs in the Microsoft-made technology were uncovered and exploited in 2007, according to Symantec. It counted 210 ActiveX vulnerabilities in the first half of last year alone, a prime factor in making IE a popular attack target.

In fact, after the Uploader and Yahoo Music Jukebox vulnerabilities were disclosed, the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which is part of the US Department of Homeland Security, recommended IE users disable ActiveX.

Kemp, however, saw the social networking angle as just as important. "Given the growing popularity of social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, attacks leveraging vulnerabilities in their client-side components are not surprising," he wrote in the warning.

Symantec urged users to update the Image Uploader ActiveX control to version 4.5.57.1.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?