Posts Tagged: tavis ormandy


15
Jun 10

Unpatched Windows XP Flaw Being Exploited

A security vulnerability in Microsoft Windows XP systems that was first disclosed a week ago is now being actively exploited by malicious Web sites to foist malware on vulnerable PCs, according to reports.

Last week, Google researcher Tavis Ormandy disclosed the details of a flaw in the Microsoft Help & Support Center on Windows XP and Server 2003 systems that he showed could be used to remotely compromise affected systems. Today, experts at security firm Sophos reported that they’re seeing the first malicious and/or hacked sites beginning to exploit the bug.

If you use Windows XP and have not yet taken Microsoft up on its suggestion to disable the vulnerable Help & Support Center component, please consider taking a moment to do that today. Until Microsoft issues an official fix for this flaw, the workaround they suggest is an easy and apparently painless one. The instructions are available at this link.

Update, June 17, 9:20 a.m. PST: Updated post to include link to Microsoft “FixIt” tool.


14
Jun 10

Security Alert for Windows XP Users

Microsoft is warning Windows XP and Server 2003 users that exploit code has been posted online showing attackers how to break into these operating systems remotely via a newly-discovered security flaw.

The vulnerability has to do with a weakness in how Windows Help and Support Center processes links. Both Windows XP and Server 2003 retrieve help and support information from a fixed set of Web pages that are included on a whitelist maintained by Windows. But Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy last week showed the world that it was possible to add URLs to that whitelist.

Microsoft said an attacker could exploit this flaw by tricking a user into clicking a specially crafted link. Any files fetched by that link would be granted the same privileges as the affected system’s current user, which could spell big problems for XP users browsing the Web in the operating system’s default configuration — using the all-powerful “administrator” account.

“Given the public disclosure of the details of the vulnerability, and how to exploit it, customers should be aware that broad attacks are likely,” Microsoft said in a statement released last week.

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14
Apr 10

Unpatched Java Exploit Spotted In-the-Wild

Last week, a Google security researcher detailed a little-known feature built into Java that can be used to launch third-party applications. Today, security experts unearthed evidence that a popular song lyrics Web site was compromised and seeded with code that leverages this Java feature to install malicious software.

On April 9, Google researcher Tavis Ormandy posted to the FullDisclosure mailing list that he’d discovered he could abuse a feature in Java to launch arbitrary applications on a Windows PC using a specially-crafted Web site.  Ormandy said the feature had been included in every version of Java since Java 6 Update 10, and was intended as a way to make it easier for developers to distribute their applications. Along with that disclosure, Ormandy published several examples of how attackers might use this functionality in Java to load malicious applications onto a user’s system.

As of this morning, songlyrics.com, a site that according to traffic analysis firm compete.com receives about 1.7 million visits each month, was loading code from assetmancomcareers.com, a Russian Web site with a history of pushing rogue anti-virus. The domain name servers for assetmancomcareers.com also serve:

spyeraser-security.com
spyeraser-trial.com
spyeraser-software.com

According to Roger Thompson, chief research officer at AVG, the site appears to use the very same code mentioned in Ormandy’s proof-of-concept to silently redirect songlyrics.com visitors to a site that loads the “Crimepack” exploit kit, a relatively new kit designed to throw a heap of software exploits at visiting browsers (see screenshot of a Crimepack administration page below).

It’s unclear whether Oracle plans to change the behavior of this feature in Java. For now, if you have Java installed on your system (don’t know? click here), you might consider implementing one or both of the workarounds mentioned here in a SANS Internet Storm Center writeup on this.

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