Like any product development team would do, the Blackhole exploit kit developer just released a new version that makes it more difficult to blacklist URLs pointing to websites containing malware.

Blackhole version 2.0 came out this week on a Russian site. The toolkit, which is popular among cyber criminals, contains a number of new features meant to avoid detection from antivirus software. Other improvements include support for Windows 8 and unspecified mobile platforms.

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Blackhole has grown in popularity because of its reputation for quickly adding exploit code for newly discovered vulnerabilities. The kit most recently exploited a critical Java vulnerability publicly known for several days before Oracle released a patch.

The Blackhole release followed the same marketing playbook for any software upgrade. Developers listed improvements like the new technology that can avoid detection.

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“Based on the release notes for Black Hole 2.0, most of the enhancements are geared toward making it more difficult for security solutions to identify and block it from operating,” said Vikram Thakur, principle Security Response manager for Symantec.

To avoid detection by current antivirus technology, the Blackhole creator did a rewrite of the toolkit’s code. In addition, there were improvements to the software’s administration panel.

Security experts said the most interesting new feature was the ability to generate short-term, random URLs pointing to malicious websites or hijacked sites that contain hacker-installed malware. Because the URLs keep changing, it’s difficult for search engines, site owners and security companies to identify malicious pages.

The Blackhole creator decided to provide more value for the same price. A one-year license remained at $1,500 for unlimited domains. For cybercriminals who want to rent Blackhole from the author’s server, the price is $50 a day or $500 a month for up to 50,000 and 70,000 hits, respectively.

In general, the new version of Blackhole does not change the threat landscape. Despite claims by the Blackhole creator, security experts were confident they would be able to eventually hack the new version and gather the information needed to update their products for spotting malware.

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