Feeds

AIM gives up control of Windows machines

Another fine mess

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A buffer overflow vulnerability in AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) could be exploited to gain complete control of a Windows machine, security research group w00w00 has revealed.

The flaw involves the way AIM processes the "Play Game with a Buddy" option. A string of text can cause a buffer overflow in the victim's client, which can then be exploited to take control of the victim's Windows machine.

All versions from the current beta back to version 4.3 are confirmed affected. Earlier versions have not been tested and may also be vulnerable.

w00w00.org member Matt Conover posted a harmless exploit demonstrating the ease with which the hole can be abused. The exploit merely shuts down a victim's AIM client remotely, but could easily be adapted to more destructive uses.

AOL says they'll have a patched version available in a matter of days. To protect yourself from exploitation in the mean time, Conover recommends installing Robbie Saunders' AIM Filter and restricting incoming messages to those on one's buddy list.

The Netscape inline AOL client is probably vulnerable if it supports games requests, and probably not vulnerable if it does not, Conover says.

Because w00w00 gave AOL only a week or so to patch the vulnerability before releasing it to several security mailing lists, the group has been criticized by company representatives and some members of the security research community, including TruSecure's Russ Cooper, who is quoted by the Associated Press characterizing the decision as "irresponsible."

Full disclosure is of course a controversial point in the security community; but wherever one comes down on the issue, it's undeniable that quick disclosure does result in quick patching. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.