Security Experts:

Windows Zero-Day Exploited by FruityArmor, SandCat Threat Groups

One of the zero-day vulnerabilities patched this week by Microsoft has been exploited in targeted attacks by several threats groups, including the ones known as FruityArmor and SandCat, Kaspersky Lab revealed on Wednesday.

Microsoft’s latest Patch Tuesday updates address two Windows zero-day flaws that allow attackers to elevate privileges. One of them, CVE-2019-0808, was reported to Microsoft by Google’s Threat Analysis Group, which has seen it being exploited in targeted attacks alongside a Chrome zero-day.

The second zero-day, tracked as CVE-2019-0797, was reported to Microsoft by Kaspersky Lab, which believes the vulnerability has been exploited by several threat actors, including FruityArmor and SandCat.

FruityArmor has been known for several years. The group has been active since at least 2016, when it used a different Windows zero-day flaw to launch attacks on researchers, activists and individuals related to government organizations in Thailand, Iran, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

More recently, FruityArmor used a Windows zero-day in attacks aimed at entities in the Middle East. Microsoft patched that vulnerability with its October 2018 updates.

SandCat, on the other hand, is a group that was discovered more recently by Kaspersky. One of the Windows vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft in December had been exploited by both FruityArmor and SandCat in attacks targeting the Middle East and Africa.

SandCat has been using FinFisher/FinSpy spyware and CHAINSHOT, a piece of malware analyzed earlier this year by Palo Alto Networks. The group has also used the CVE-2018-8589 and CVE-2018-8611 Windows vulnerabilities in its attacks, both of which had a zero-day status when Microsoft released fixes.

Anton Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told SecurityWeek that the company does not have any information about the targets of the attacks involving the latest Windows zero-day, CVE-2019-0797.

Kaspersky said it informed Microsoft of this security hole, which it described as a race condition in the Win32k driver, on February 22. The security firm has analyzed a piece of malware that exploits CVE-2019-0797 on devices running 64-bit versions of Windows 8 through Windows 10.

It’s worth noting that CVE-2019-0797 is the fourth actively exploited Windows flaw discovered in recent months by Kaspersky.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.