Operation Clandestine Fox

FireEye Research Labs notified the public of a new IE zero-day exploit being used in Operation Clandestine Fox The initial attack targeted users of IE versions 9, 10, and 11 on Windows 7 and 8. Despite attackers only targeting those versions of Microsoft IE and Windows OS, the vulnerability actually impacts all versions of IE from 6 through 11.

FireEye Labs can reveal a newly uncovered version of the attack that specifically targets out-of-life Windows XP machines running IE 8.


Multiple, new threat actors are now using the exploit in attacks and have expanded the industries they are targeting. In addition to previously observed attacks against the Defense and Financial sectors, organization in the Government- and Energy-sector are now also facing attack.


The main differences between this new attack targeting Windows XP compared to the original Windows 7/8.1 versions of this attack are the mitigation bypasses. The Windows 7/8.1 version develops its write primitive into read/write access to much of the process space by corrupting Flash vector objects. This is to bypass ASLR by searching for ROP gadgets and building a ROP chain dynamically in memory.

This new tactic of specifically targeting those running Windows XP means the risk factors of this vulnerability are now even higher.

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