Google Hackers Who Unleashed Hydraq/Aurora Trojan Strikes Again

Google Hackers Who Unleashed Hydraq/Aurora Trojan Strikes Again 

Computer security firm Symantec has unveiled, that a hacker group which unleashed the Hydraq or Aurora Trojan horse against Google and 34 other companies in 2009 has also been linked to attacks that have compromised systems at defense contractors, human rights organizations, and other large groups. According to the official blog of Symantec- they have been monitoring the activities of that hacker group since last three years and figure out that these attackers have used a large number of zero-day exploits against not just the intended target organization, but also on the supply chain manufacturers that service the company in their cross hairs. These attackers are systematic and re-use components of an infrastructure we have termed the "Elderwood Platform". The term "Elderwood" comes from the exploit communication used in some of the attacks. This attack platform enables them to quickly deploy zero-day exploits. The attacking methodology has always used spear phishing emails but we are now seeing an increased adoption of "watering hole" attacks (compromising certain websites likely to be visited by the target organization). The overall campaign by this group has been dubbed by the name "Elderwood Project".  
Serious zero-day vulnerabilities, which are exploited in the wild and affect a widely used piece of software, are relatively rare; there were approximately eight in 2011. The past few months however has seen four such zero-day vulnerabilities used by the Elderwood attackers. Although there are other attackers utilizing zero-day exploits (for example, the Sykipot, Nitro, or even Stuxnet attacks), we have seen no other group use so many. The number of zero-day exploits used indicates access to a high level of technical capability. Here are just some of the most recent exploits that they have used:
  •  Adobe Flash Player Object Type Confusion Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2012-0779)
  •  Microsoft Internet Explorer Same ID Property Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2012-1875)
  •  Microsoft XML Core Services Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2012-1889)
  •  Adobe Flash Player Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2012-1535) 
Symantec have published a research paper that details the links between various exploits used by this attacking group, their method of targeting organizations, and the Elderwood Platform. It puts into perspective the continuing evolution and sheer resilience of entities behind targeted attacks. 


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