Feeds

Linux vulnerable to Windows-style autorun exploits

Caveats abound

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A security researcher has demonstrated how it might be possible to perform autorun-style attacks against weakly secured Linux PCs.

Windows worms including Conficker and Stuxnet have often spread onto networks after infected USB sticks were plugged into PCs. This has happened automatically in cases where autorun was enabled, as it did in default on older versions of Windows until a change pushed by Microsoft on Tuesday. With autorun-enabled executable files run with minimal user interaction.

Research by Jon Larimer, of IBM's X-Force security division, shows that the issue of autorun causing possible mischief is not (as might have been previously thought) wholly irrelevant to Linux boxes. Larimer developed a demo to show how it might be possible to insert a USB stick with modified code into a Ubuntu PC to get rid of a screensaver without entering a password – and display the user's desktop.

The demo relied on taking advantage of a flaw in GNOME Evince document viewer that was patched in January and, even so, was kind of "weak" because it was shown on a machine with in-built exploit mitigation disabled, as Larimer himself clearly explains.

During a talk at last weekend's ShmooCon security conference Larimer explains how these mitigations – namely ASLR and AppArmor – might be defeated. This aspect of his research was not included in the demo simply to make sure that the demonstration was reliable and he didn't have to mess around trying to run a brute-force attack on ASLR in front of a live audience.

The upshot of the research is that you might be able to do things you aren't supposed to do on a Linux box by misusing autorun functionality. It doesn't mean that Linux autorun worms might be created using the sort of jiggery-pokery illustrated by Larimer.

Even leaving aside the fact that the minuscule ecosystem of Linux malware strains are dwarfed by orders of magnitude by the Windows virus hoard, plenty of other caveats apply, as Larimer makes clear.

More on Larimer's research can be found in a blog post here and in a YouTube video clip of his presentation. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.
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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.