Hackers resurrect notorious attack toolkit

Neosploit, thought dead three months ago, behind PDF attacks, researcher says

The kit also acts as a back-end analyzer 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.

Another improvement, he added, was in licensing. "The main change I've noticed is that it locks down licensing even further. The 'criminal DRM' is even harsher than it was before," Amit said, adding that Neosploit had become so successful that it had been copied and pirated by criminals who didn't want to pay for the software. The licensing modifications, which include tying the username and password of a paying account to a specific IP address, is the group's reaction to that theft.

Neosploit's return, Amit said, coincides with a recent, rapid rise in the number of attacks targeting vulnerabilities in Adobe PDF (portable document format) files. Although other researchers -- those at Secure Computing, for example -- have speculated that the increase is due to a new PDF-only attack kit dubbed "PDF Xploit Pack" -- Amit said the data dug out of the Argentinean server says otherwise.

"Now that we know Neosploit's back, we can try to correlate that with attacks in the last three to four months," Amit said. "The rise in the number of PDF exploits can definitely be linked to Neosploit 3.1." According to the data on the server, the PDF exploit Neosploit serves up is, by far, the most effective and efficient of those currently included with the kit. Neosploit 3.1 also tries other exploits, including ones aimed at QuickTime and Windows Media Player.

"We see one of these other kits [like PDT Xploit Pack] pop up once or twice a month, but they don't really catch on," Amit claimed.

Aladdin is working with both local and international law enforcement agencies to try to track the criminals using Neosploit, and shutter their servers, Amit said. He's been working with US-CERT, a cybercrime and vulnerability clearing house that's part of the Department of Homeland Security, for instance.

"Neosploit's out there and alive," he said. "As long as there's a demand for these tools, they're going to supply them."

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