6 September 2013

Web users are warned that NetTraveler, a high-profile advanced persistent threat (APT) that was disabled by its authors after being publicly detected in June, is once again active after being rewritten to exploit a common Java vulnerability.

NetTraveler initially infected victim computers using an exploit in Microsoft Office, which was patched by Microsoft in April this year. The new variant instead uses a Java vulnerability potentially allowing it to infect a large number of systems.

Spear-phishing attacks (those directed at specific individuals or companies) try to trick you into opening malware-laden email attachments designed to appeal to their target audiences with names such as ‘Army Cyber Security Policy 2013.doc’, ‘Activity Details.doc’ and ‘Freedom of Speech.doc’. The new variant also uses ‘watering hole’ techniques, where cybercriminals infect target websites with malware that automatically spreads to your computer when you visit the sites.

Once your computer is infected, the NetTraveler malware records your keystrokes and sends files from your system to the cybercriminals. A June estimate by security firm Kaspersky Lab suggested the first NetTraveler attack successfully stole 22 gigabytes of documents, spreadsheets, PDFs and other files from its victims.

NetTraveler previously targeted Tibetan and Uyghur activists, oil industry companies, research centres, private companies, and government bodies.

In this case, the infected sites relate to China’s Uyghur ethnic minority. Uyghur activists have been targeted with ‘spear phishing’ emails designed to lure them to the compromised websites. Once they visit the site, a Java malware application exploits a vulnerability in that software to compromise your computer.

Kaspersky Lab, which reported the new variant of NetTraveler and its new Java infection vector, has warned that the resurgence of NetTraveler suggests the responsible group is likely planning larger targeted attacks.

Avoid phishing attacks

Take the OnGuard Online Phishing Quiz to see if you know how to spot a phishing email.

Detailed information about NetTraveler.

Do you have Java?

You can check to see if you have Java on your computer by visiting the Java website and clicking “Do I have Java?”.

How to set automatic updates on your computer.

Apple users

FAQ about Java on Macs.

Oracle Java SE 7 update 21 is also available for Macs running OSX 10.7 or later.

Although Apple no longer officially supports Java for Snow Leopard, it has released an update for OSX 10.6 for users wishing to continue using Java.

Apple has also released updates for Safari, which allows Java applets to be enabled on a website by website basis.

You can check for updates via Apple menu > Software Update.

More information

You can update Java by visiting Oracle’s website, or via the Java control panel.

Oracle provides useful answers to FAQ’s on its website, including how to set automatic updates and notifications, as well as how to disable Java in your browser.

In recent months, Stay Smart Online has provided advice about using Java. You should evaluate your need for Java and manage your computer accordingly.

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.

Information provided by Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT).


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.


This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy ('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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