Showing someone they are important to you is not always straightforward. Hackers, on the other hand, seem to have figured this out.
Over the years I have designed, built and operated a number of WebPKI Certificate Authorities. In these roles, one thing that has been common is that hackers are always willing to use their finest exploits for a chance at the keys that would let them impersonate any site on the Internet.
That is why it’s not uncommon for an attacker to spend a zero-day on a WebPKI CA, and when they do I would argue that is their way of showing you they think you are important.
The black market for high-quality remote exploits that have never seen the light of day is not exactly small. Exploits like this are essentially a rapidly depreciating asset, once they become known the clock starts ticking and their value decreases until it hits zero.
In a past role, over a period of about three years, we had at least three `zero-days` spent on us, and I was flattered.
Attackers are no different than everyone else, they prefer the easy path so they often go after oldest and cruftiest stuff you are dependent on, and Adobe Acrobat was one such component for us.
Acrobat has had nearly 800 CVEs in the last 18 years. Each CVE often covers many related vectors but if we are generous and say one CVE equals one exploit it averages over 40 a year. Now not all of those issues are of the same bar, but it’s one of the most attacked pieces of software out there.
What got me thinking about this was a great post on mitigation vs isolation and the different strategies used by Chrome and Edge in their security program.
While you clearly need to employ both strategies, perfection is impossible to achieve which means isolation and least privilege ends up being one of the most powerful tools you have in your mitigation toolbox.
This is one of the reasons I like projects like the PDF.js project, Electron and Progressive Web Applications, they inherently get the benefit of browser isolation and mitigation.
The trend to use web applications like these make it harder on the attackers and that’s a good thing.