Feeds

Firm finds danger in dangling pointers

New buffer overflow threat

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft's Security Response Centre also had other problems. Less than two weeks later, zero-day details on a vulnerability in the handling of the Windows Meta File (WMF) format had leaked to the Internet, and the software giant had to scramble to develop a patch.

The software giant fixed the IIS flaw as part of its regularly schedule Patch Tuesday on 10 July. The software giant would only comment on the patch, not the flaw itself.

Security researchers have known that dangling pointers can be an exploitable vulnerability; it is not a new concept.

Last week, security firm iDefense published details on an exploitable dangling pointer flaw in the Opera web browser. The vulnerability was caused by the browser's misuse of application memory when removing BitTorrent transfers from the transfer list.

Determining whether such vulnerabilities can be exploited is not a trivial task, said Sean Larsson, security intelligence engineer for Internet and security services firm VeriSign, iDefense' parent company.

"There are more reported buffer overflow vulnerabilities than dangling pointer vulnerabilities," Larsson stated in an e-mail interview with SecurityFocus. "However, that doesn't necessarily mean that dangling pointer vulnerabilities are not common. Depending on the behaviour of the program, a dangling pointer vulnerability might not even result in a crash, which makes it difficult to detect."

Opera patched the vulnerability in an update released last week in coordination with iDefense's announcement.

Watchfire called such announcements the "tip of the iceberg".

The security-audit firm would give few details before the Black Hat presentation, but did say that the applications most in danger are web servers and operating systems, followed by client software used to access the internet, such as web browsers. Also, programming languages that automatically clean up memory when an object is deleted - called implicit garbage collection - will not be affected by dangling pointers.

"It is very technical and sophisticated, more so than exploiting a buffer overflow," Allan said. "Any application that is remotely accessible to me is my biggest target. Any software that does not have implicit garbage collection is going to be a target."

"My guess is there will be a lot of research into dangling pointers in the future," he said.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2007, SecurityFocus

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.