The exploit can be defined as a command’s sequence, data’s chunk, or software part that grabs benefits of vulnerability or bug in a system or application. It can result in an unexpected or unintended appearance on computer hardware, software, or anything electronically operated (mostly computerized). Such unusual nature frequently contains things like DoS (denial-of-service) attack, privilege escalation, etc.
The term “exploit” comes from an English verb, which means “to apply something to own advantage of one.” It means that a stack suffers target from any design imperfection, which permits people to make the means for accessing it and apply it in their interest.
Classification of Exploit
Exploit can be categorized as follows:
- Unknown (also, zero-day vulnerabilities)
The zero-day (unknown) vulnerabilities are the most threatening, as they appear when the software includes a security susceptibility of which a vendor is unfamiliar. The vulnerability becomes known when the hacker is recognized exploiting a vulnerability. When such exploits appear, system running any software will be left susceptible to the attack unit. A vendor delivers a patch for correcting the susceptibility, and this patch is used to the software.
Various users most often access exploit kits through high-trafficked booby-trapped websites. Typically cybercriminals select reputable or popular sites to reap on their investment. It means many news sites we read, many websites we use for browsing real estate, and several online stores where we purchase our things are all feasible sources. Sites like msn.com, nytimes.com, and yahoo.com area compromised previously.
We often consider multiple websites while surfing. Any website can redirect us in the background, without starting the browser windows and alerting us in some other way. Hence, it can be a threat. According to this, we are either discarded or chosen for exploitation.
How a website compromised?
A website can be compromised in two ways-
- A part of the malicious code will be hidden inside the plain site over a website (through good old-fashioned hacking).
- The advertisements that are shown on a website have been infected.
The above types of malicious ads, also called malvertising, are dangerous. The users are not aware of any advertisement threat. Both of the malvertising or hacked sites methods, redirect us to a concealed landing page immediately that is introducing an exploit kit.
An exploit kit detects susceptibilities and launches a proper exploit to drop the malicious payloads. Ransomware is the specific exploit kit’s favorite payload nowadays.
Almost all software pieces are potentially vulnerable. The teams of criminal spend a lot of time to adversely affect the programs, so that they can easily find vulnerabilities. But, they focus on an application along with the user-case. With each form of cybercrime, it is a game of numbers. Top application objectives contain Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Internet Explorer.
There are three most active exploit kits which are named as Magnitude, RIG, and Neutrino. RIG is one of the most famous kits, and it is being implemented in both websites. Thus, it focuses on malvertising to infect the machines of the users with ransomware. Magnitude kit uses malvertising for launching its attack, though it is focused on various countries in Asia strictly. Neutrino is a Russian-made type of kit, that is been used inside the malvertising campaigns across top publishers. It also preys over Internet Explorer and Flash vulnerabilities (as well as to deliver ransomware).
Protection against exploits
- Make sure to keep our software programs, plugins, and operating systems updated every time. We can either opt for updating notifications in our mobile device or PC. Also, we can check the settings time-to-time to inspect if there are any unseen notifications left.
- Invest in the cyber security that defends against both unknown and known exploits. Various cybersecurity companies (like Malwarebytes) of the next generation have started incorporating anti-exploiting automation in their products.
So, we can keep our shields-up by updating our operating systems and programs consistently and using anti-exploit top-notch security programs.