Feeds

Firm finds danger in dangling pointers

New buffer overflow threat

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.