Neosploit, the notorious hacker exploit kit, has returned to the web and is responsible for a dramatic increase in attacks, a security researcher has claimed.
"Neosploit's back," said Ian Amit, director of security research at Aladdin Knowledge Systems.
Neosploit, which first appeared in 2007, was a follow-on to the earlier MPack, and a contemporary to another infamous exploit kit, WebAttacker. Those kits, Neosploit included, were used by cybercriminals to launch attack code aimed at new vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer or third-party software such as Apple's QuickTime. But Neosploit also boasted features new to the click-to-attack business, including sophisticated statistical analysis and management tools.
In July researchers at RSA's FraudAction Research Labs said that they had evidence that the creators of Neosploit were abandoning the business. For proof, RSA quoted a going-out-of-business message said to have originated with Neosploit's authors.
However, even RSA didn't expect the Neosploit group to disband. "This isn't necessarily the end of this group," said Sean Brady, an RSA product marketing manager, in July.
A month ago, researchers at Aladdin started to suspect that the Neosploit developers were back in business. Two days ago, they uncovered hard evidence: A server hosted in Argentina, run by a longtime Neosploit customer that contained Neosploit 3.1. The build was dated August 9, just weeks after Neosploit's makers supposedly threw in the towel.
According to Amit, other data on the server showed that it was catering to 20 users, seven of whom he characterised as "very high volume", who were logging thousands of successful exploits each day from their use of Neosploit.
Those 20 criminals, added Amit, had compromised between 200 and 300 websites, which in turn were being used to serve up exploits from Neosploit to any visitor running a system that had not been fully patched. He found evidence of more than a quarter of a million successful attacks against PCs carried out by those sites.
"Neosploit's sole purpose is to deliver malicious code to browsers," Amit said, noting that site hacking isn't part of the kit's jobs. Instead, criminals compromise sites through other vulnerabilities or by gaming the site's administrative password. Only then do they modify the hacked site with attack code from Neosploit.
The kit also acts as a back-end analyser and is flush with tools that tell the hackers what exploits are most effective and which browsers are most vulnerable, features that have been significantly enhanced in version 3.1, Amit said.
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