Cyberespionage group Pawn Storm uses exploit for unpatched Java flaw

The exploit was used in attacks against the armed forces of a NATO country and a U.S. defense organization

Big data

Big data

A sophisticated group of hackers known for targeting military, government and media organizations is currently using an exploit for a vulnerability in Java that hasn't been patched by Oracle.

The zero-day exploit was recently observed by researchers from antivirus vendor Trend Micro in attacks against the armed forces of an unnamed NATO country and a U.S. defense organization. Those targets received spear-phishing emails that contained links to Web pages hosting the exploit.

The cyberespionage group, known as APT28 and Pawn Storm, has been active since at least 2007. Some security vendors believe that it operates out of Russia and has ties to that country's intelligence services.

The group has been targeting NATO members and governments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as defense contractors and media organizations. It typically sends rogue emails to its victims with malicious links to supposed articles about geopolitical events.

The newly found exploit affects the latest version of the Java runtime environment, Java 8 Update 45, which was released in April, researchers from Trend Micro said in a blog post.

Surprisingly, the exploit doesn't affect the older Java 7 and Java 6 versions, which no longer receive public security patches from Oracle.

A couple of years ago Java was the most frequently attacked browser plug-in, which prompted Oracle to beef up security in Java 8.

This is the first Java zero-day exploit reported in nearly two years, the Trend Micro researchers said.

Zero-day exploits are those that target previously unknown vulnerabilities for which patches are not yet available.

Although unrelated, this exploit's discovery comes at a time when security researchers found three zero-day exploits for Flash Player in data leaked from a surveillance software maker called Hacking Team.

Disabling both Flash Player and Java is advisable until these vulnerabilities are patched, the Trend Micro researchers said in a separate blog post. "Extra caution should be exercised for the foreseeable future and special attention paid for the possibility of compromised ad servers."

"Flash and Java vulnerabilities are particularly well-suited for malvertising attacks, so we could possibly see these vulnerabilities incorporated into exploit kits that, in turn, are used to attack ad servers," the researchers said.

In fact, two of the newly found Flash Player exploits have already been integrated into exploit kits that are used in malvertising attacks.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags intrusiontrend microsecurityExploits / vulnerabilitiesmalwareOracle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?