Phishing campaigns target US government agencies exploiting Hacking Team flaw CVE-2015-5119

Pierluigi Paganini July 20, 2015

A recent FBI memo warns phishing attacks targeted government agencies trying to exploit the CVE-2015-5119 vulnerability linked to Hacking Team data breach.

According to an FBI warning, hackers have targeted US Government agencies using a recently patched Adobe Flash vulnerability (CVE-2015-5119). The Adobe Flash vulnerability was one of the flaws discovered by analyzing the 400Gb archive stolen from the Hacking Team and leaked online by the hackers.

The news is not surprising, as anticipated by many experts, several criminal gangs included the code for the exploitation of CVE-2015-5119 vulnerability in their exploit kits.

Despite Adobe promptly patched the vulnerability, according to security solutions provider Volexity, the Adobe Flash Player exploit has been leveraged by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, including the Chinese Wekby APT (aka APT 18, Dynamite Panda and TG-0416).

Experts at Volexity confirmed that the Flash Player exploit has been leveraged in a number of cyber attacks run by APTs and also by common criminal groups.

“The exploit has since been added into the Angler Exploit Kit and integrated into Metasploit. However, not to be out done, APT attackers have also started leveraging the exploit in targeted spear phishing attacks as well.” reports the blog post published by the company.

The Wekby were sent out the malicious messages by using a spoofed Adobe email address and they included a link apparently pointing to the official Adobe download domain that was referring a domain set up to serve the SWF file crafted to exploit the CVE-2015-5119.

The Labels found by the experts in the SWF file suggest that the code for the Adobe exploits is the same leaked in the Hacking Team hack.

wekby adobe-phish label exploit CVE-2015-5119

Now the FBI warned of a new wave of attacks started on July 8, the law enforcement Agency issued a memo (alert A-000062-PH).

“The FBI has received information regarding a likely ongoing phishing campaign that started 08 July 2015 and was observed targeting US government agencies. This campaign is similar to a June campaign launched by similar malicious actors. In both campaigns, the e-mails contain a link that exploits Adobe Flash vulnerability CVE-2015-5119.” reported CSO.

The experts noticed that another campaign was launched in June, when hackers targeted government agencies and private companies in a number of industries, including IT, aerospace, and transport.

The malicious phishing emails used as subject the text “AEP Energy Program Update: 2015 Program Year Kick Off” and “Review Link”.

Other Subjects used in the previous campaign are:

  • SUBJECT: AEP Energy Program Update: 2015 Program Year Kick Off
  • SUBJECT: Review Link
  • SUBJECT: PLS Account A42660861
  • FROM: Adam L Hannah <[email protected]>
  • FROM: Carrie Spencer <[email protected]>
  • LINK: hxxp://

Moreover, the FBI memo reported malware activity linked to the following IP addresses:

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – CVE-2015-5119, Hacking Team)

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