Attackers use stolen certificate to sign malicious Java applet

Share this article:

Users are being duped into running a malicious Java applet that was signed with a stolen digital certificate and designed to look like a security update.

Security researcher Eric Romang on Tuesday blogged about the malicious file, which appears to victims as a “Java ClearWeb Security Update” – as shown in a screen cap he posted. The applet was discovered on a German online dictionary site, which was compromised by an exploit kit called “g01pack.” 

According to Romang, the stolen private key used to sign the applet belongs to CLEAResult Consulting, an Austin, Texas-based energy efficiency firm. The company is listed as the publisher of the application in the fake  "security update" that Romang screen-grabbed.

Jindrich Kubec, director of threat intelligence at AVAST, a Czech Republic-based security software company, said default security settings in Java exacerbated the threat for users. There is no word yet on what Java vulnerability was being exploited, though there have been a number of bugs in the platform that recently have surfaced.

“My Java has ‘check certificates for revocation,' turned off,” Kubec tweeted, referencing the issue. “[It] also has ‘enable granting elevated access to self-signed apps,' [set] to on.”

On Monday, Oracle released an update to patch other vulnerabilities in its widely used Java software. The update for Java SE 5, 6 and 7 addressed two flaws, CVE-2013-0809 and CVE-2013-1493. The latter bug was exploited in the wild by attackers to spread the McRAT executable. reached out to Oracle concerning the malicious Java applet, but did not immediately hear back.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters


More in News

Study: Canada C-Suite execs say companies prepared for threats

A survey of Canadian business execs found that just over a quarter had experienced a cyber attack.

PHP vulnerabilities patched

Developers patched multiple vulnerabilities in PHP that would have allowed remote code execution.

Pennyslvania man sentenced after 'swatting' prank

Pennyslvania man sentenced after 'swatting' prank

David Barnhouse was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he hacked into a neighbor's Verizon FiOS router to post a bomb threat on a Pennsylvania mall's website.