9 July 2014

Last week, Dailymotion.com, a popular video sharing website, was targeted by attackers, causing visitors to the site to be redirected to a malicious website.

Malware hosted on the site that visitors were redirected to includes an ‘exploit kit’, a package of ready-made ‘exploits’ (pre-prepared attacks) which are designed to target a specific set of vulnerabilities commonly found in popular software.

If you were redirected to the malicious site, the exploit kit would attempt to automatically target your computer using these vulnerabilities.

This particular exploit kit is known to try and target certain vulnerabilities in old and unpatched versions of Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash and Oracle Java SE on Windows based systems.

If the exploits successfully accessed your computer, further malware could have been downloaded without your knowledge. This malware would force your computer to automatically ‘click’ on online ads, using your computer to silently generate money for the attackers.

Microsoft, Adobe and Oracle have released updates to fix these vulnerabilities in the past year, so if your system and software is up to date, you should not be affected.

Dailymotion’s website was fixed shortly after the issue became public and only a minor proportion of affected users were believed to be in Australia. However, this case provides a good example of why it is important to always ensure your system and software are up to date.

Security software should also help prevent the exploit kit from targeting your computer.

Exploit kits

Exploit kits are developed by hackers to target a range of possible vulnerabilities in applications and systems that people commonly use.

Exploit kits are often based around vulnerabilities such as those ‘patched’ every month by Microsoft and Adobe, because attackers know that a percentage of people will fail to update their systems.

Selections of these exploits are bundled together into kits that can be used to target your computer with multiple exploits at once, increasing the chances of success.

Exploit kits are often traded online or licenced for use by their authors, much like regular software.

Redirecting you from a legitimate website to a malicious one without your knowledge, such as in this example, is a common approach for attacks using an exploit kit.

Staying safe

Because even well respected and popular sites can be targeted in such a way, being careful about where you go on the internet does not always help.

It is important to ensure your software and systems are up to date too. Exploit kits often target systems that have out of date software.

Enable automatic updates. This means you get software updates as soon as they are released.

Use security software from a reputable vendor. Good security software will block common malware.

More information

Stay Smart Online advice about setting and using security software.

Security vendor Malwarebytes provides a good discussion of exploit kits.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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