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Orange is the New Black: Sweet Orange Exploit Kit Gains Traction

Yesterday, SecurityWeek reported that the latest Apache-based rootkit was serving malicious links to the Sweet Orange exploit kit. As it turns out, the kit is gaining traction on the malicious parts of the Web by promising up and coming criminals new features and a larger slice of the victim pool.

Blue Coat’s Jeff Doty published some analysis on the Sweet Orange exploit kit this week, which if taken at its face value, shows that the Orange kit could be the replacement for the Black Hole Kit currently favored by criminals.

Orange Exploit kitSweet Orange offers a lower footprint and easier usage, two advantages over Black Hole, while maintaining a solid dashboard for tracking infection rates and exploit availability. It’s unknown if Sweet Orange is modular like Black Hole is, but if it isn’t now, as demand grows it soon will be.

“In my research, I found 45 different IP addresses (and a total of 267 different domains) that are dedicated to Sweet Orange,” Doty wrote.

“I wondered if anyone else was seeing these... To find out, I took a sample of 20 domains and 20 IP addresses (that were completely dedicated to Sweet Orange) and ran them through a couple of different public virus scanners. Only 7 of the 20 domains were caught by any of the vendors on VirusTotal: three by one vendor, and four by another, or an average of 0.35 hits per domain. It got worse when I checked the IP addresses. There were zero hits on any of the 20.”

Sweet Orange developers claim that they can drive 150,000 unique daily visitors to domains hosting the kit, which translates to 10,000 new bots daily if the claims are true. Based on Blue Coat’s observations, it’s certainly possible to achieve those numbers. Thus, orange may very well be the new black.

Perhaps this is why the Apache malware is using the Sweet Orange kit, as it would enable the controllers to deliver on their traffic assurances.

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.