Manufacturing compromise: The emergence of exploit-as-a-service

Chris Grier, Lucas Ballard, Juan Caballero, Neha Chachra, Christian J. Dietrich, Kirill Levchenko, Panayiotis Mavrommatis, Damon McCoy, Antonio Nappa, Andreas Pitsillidis, Niels Provos, M. Zubair Rafique, Moheeb Abu Rajab, Christian Rossow, Kurt Thomas, Vern Paxson, Stefan Savage, Geoffrey M. Voelker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We investigate the emergence of the exploit-as-a-service model for driveby browser compromise. In this regime, attackers pay for an exploit kit or service to do the "dirty work" of exploiting a victim's browser, decoupling the complexities of browser and plugin vulnerabilities from the challenges of generating traffic to a website under the attacker's control. Upon a successful exploit, these kits load and execute a binary provided by the attacker, effectively transferring control of a victim's machine to the attacker. In order to understand the impact of the exploit-as-a-service paradigm on the malware ecosystem, we perform a detailed analysis of the prevalence of exploit kits, the families of malware installed upon a successful exploit, and the volume of traffic that malicious web sites receive. To carry out this study, we analyze 77,000 malicious URLs received from Google Safe Browsing, along with a crowd-sourced feed of blacklisted URLs known to direct to exploit kits. These URLs led to over 10,000 distinct binaries, which we ran in a contained environment. Our results show that many of the most prominent families of malware now propagate through driveby downloads-32 families in all. Their activities are supported by a handful of exploit kits, with Blackhole accounting for 29% of all malicious URLs in our data, followed in popularity by Incognito.We use DNS traffic from real networks to provide a unique perspective on the popularity of malware families based on the frequency that their binaries are installed by drivebys, as well as the lifetime and popularity of domains funneling users to exploits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCCS'12 - Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event2012 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2012 - Raleigh, NC, United States
Duration: Oct 16 2012Oct 18 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISSN (Print)1543-7221


Other2012 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityRaleigh, NC


  • Malware
  • Security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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