Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 09:14

Angler exploit kit disappears, Neutrino takes its place

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The Angler exploit kit, which first appeared three years ago and was in wide use by nefarious individuals, appears to have disappeared, according to researchers at Forcepoint Labs.

In its place, those looking to infect systems with malware appear to have turned to the Neutrino exploit kit, according to Nicholas Griffin, a senior security researcher.

Exploit kits are used in a process known as a drive-by download which directs a browser to a Website that hosts the kit. The kit is then used to infect the system, depending on the vulnerabilities present.

The process is generally unknown to the user, happening without his or her intervention.

After its first appearance, Angler grew in popularity, with those behind the kit acting quickly to evade detection by common security products. The rise of Angler appears to have occurred after the alleged operators of the Blackhole exploit kit were arrested in October 2013.

Griffin said the halt in the use of Angler was all the more surprising given a recent report that it had been modified to evade Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit.

However, he said it could be related to the arrest of a Russian gang which had been using Angler to distribute a banking trojan known as Lurk.

On a blog devoted to malware issues, the author known as Kaffeine said that those who had been using Angler were now moving to another exploit kit known as Neutrino.

Demand and supply is equally at work in the world of exploit kits and Kaffeine had noted that the suppliers of Neutrino had now increased the price of their exploit kit, Griffin said.

From US$880 per week on a shared server and US$3500 per month on a dedicated server, Neutrino was now only catering to dedicated servers and had doubled the price to US$7000, Kaffeine noted.

This is akin to what happened to exploit kit prices after the infamous Blackhole kit went out of use.

"We will continue to monitor Angler to see if it re-emerges or if it is truly dead and buried," Griffin said. "In its absence we expect to see a sharp increase in hits on other active exploit kits such as RIG and Neutrino."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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