Feeds

New York Times hackers linked to Japan Ichitaro attacks

Backdoors targeting government victims

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Security experts have uncovered attacks exploiting a zero day vulnerability in Japan’s most popular word processing software, bearing all the hallmarks of a Chinese group blamed for last year's New York Times hack.

Ichitaro developer, JustSystems, announced a remote code execution vulnerability in multiple versions of the software last week.

Symantec has claimed, in a blog post, that it had already detected attacks in the wild attempting to exploit this vulnerability, which could lead to the execution of arbitrary code on a victim’s machine.

These attacks feature the same backdoor, identified as Backdoor.Vidgrab, that was spotted in an attack exploiting the Microsoft Internet Explorer Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2013-3893). Redmond patched that up last month.

Symantec continued:

It is reasonable to assume that the same malware group, or another group with close connections, is behind the attacks that utilised the Internet Explorer and Ichitaro vulnerabilities. Backdoor.Vidgrab is known to be used to target the Asia-Pacific region with government sectors being the primary targets according to TrendMicro. Symantec telemetries do not dispute this claim.

In the attacks spotted by Symantec, malware is hidden in an email attachment, as per a classic advanced persistent threat campaign, but is slightly unusual in that the content is a spoof marketing email from a popular Japanese e-commerce site, with the attachment taking the form of a virtual flyer.

A variant of the Trojan.Mdropper seen in the Ichitaro attacks was spotted by Symantec back in June. It attempts to download malware from a server associated with APT 12, a Chinese cyber crime group pegged by Mandiant for attacks on the New York Times last year.

Symantec has a couple of theories about the Ichitaro attacks:

The attackers, possibly belonging to the APT12 group who may have also developed Backdoor.Vidgrab, are persistently targeting similar, if not the identical, targets by attempting to exploit Ichitaro. The attackers may also be using the targets as guinea pigs to test if the exploit code works properly. The attack may also be a precursor, the attackers could have run the tests in order to find effective email contents and subject lines, for example, that are enticing enough lure targets into opening the malicious attachment.

JustSystems has released a patch for the remote code execution vulnerability, which Ichitaro users are urged to apply. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.