Feeds

White hats release exploit for critical Windows vuln

Microsoft not immune to Immunity

Reducing security risks from open source software

White-hat hackers have released reliable code that remotely exploits a critical vulnerability in the Vista and Server 2008 versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

The exploit code, released Wednesday by security firm Immunity, came as separate researchers with the Metasploit penetration testing project said they were close to releasing their own software targeting the network file-sharing technology known as SMB2, or Server Message Block version 2. It was first added to Vista and has since been put into other Microsoft operating systems.

The progress of ethical researchers in exploiting the bug is important because it's an indication of how other, less scrupulous hackers are likely faring. It shows that the bug, which affects newer operating systems built under a program designed to prevent such security flaws, is far from being a mere theoretical risk to the millions of people who use the products. Rather, it means attackers can use the internet to take over vulnerable machines located half-way around the globe.

"This is the kind of vulnerability that hits everybody who is sharing files with other users," Dave Aitel, CTO of Immunity, told El Reg. "It affects the most secure operating system Microsoft has put out other than Windows 7."

Aitel said it took a team of four researchers to develop an exploit for the vulnerability, which surfaced last week. Immunity researcher Kostya Kortchinsky led the effort. The exploit code works on all versions of Vista and the Service Pack 2 version of 2008, he said.

The vulnerability, which is the result of the SMB2's failure to adequately parse network negotiation requests, affects all versions of Vista, versions of Server 2008 other than R2 and the release candidate (but not the release to manufacture) version of Windows 7. Microsoft has said it plans to release updates patching the vulnerability as soon as they're ready.

Members of the Metasploit project, which produces an open-source program that tests networks for a comprehensive list of vulnerabilities, indicated they are close to releasing exploits of their own. Team member Stephen Fewer has identified the exploit identification pointer needed to remotely exploit the vulnerability in Service Pack 1 version of Windows. Once an exploit is released, they expect it to work on other vulnerable platforms as well.

Beginning with Vista, Microsoft introduced a variety of counter measures designed to make it harder for hackers to exploit bugs that inevitably escape notice during development. Address space layout randomization, data execution prevention are just two of them. While they clearly making exploitation harder, Wednesday's release by Immunity shows they are by no means foolproof.

"Lots of people, good and bad, have been trying to exploit this bug, I'd guess," Charlie Miller, a security researcher not involved in either project said. "Koysta is the first to actually succeed, which goes to show he's an awesome exploit writer." ®

Updated to add comment from Charlie Miller and to add that the exploit also works against Windows 2008 SP2.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.