Feeds

Big browser builders scramble to fix cross-platform zero-day flaw

Mac users, you're just as vulnerable to phishing scheme

High performance access to file storage

Browser manufacturers will release an update in the next few weeks to block a new type of malware that exploits a cross-platform flaw that allows attackers access to Mac, PC, mobile, and even games console internet users.

"PC, Android, Mac – the vulnerability hits them all the same," said Sveta Miladinov, founder of the British-based security research firm MRG Effitas, at a Kaspersky Lab meeting in San Francisco on Thursday. "It is being exploited in the wild, but not at a high rate at the moment. I can't say any more until the patches are finished, but it's a true cross-platform browser vulnerability."

Miladinov's team had seen the sample working against one particular browser type and has taken a sample in the wild. By reverse-engineering it, the team showed that the code can be used to get around the security of most of the major browsers. His company then got in contact with manufacturers to get the flaw fixed before going public with the news.

This is the kind of exploit browser makers loath and security experts have come to fear, and it appears that the malware is primarily intended for use in phishing attacks rather than giving access to full systems. More details will be made available once the zero-day flaw patch is released, but even that may not be enough to provide protection.

"For many users, even old attacks are zero-day for them personally, because too few people actually update their systems, especially Mac users," Peter Stelzhammer, cofounder of security researchers AV-Comparitives told The Register.

"It's very difficult to get malware to take control of a fully patched Mac computer, but what's the point? The main problem is phishing and that's browser-based," Stelzhammer said. "It doesn't really matter if it's a PC, Mac, or games console; you're still vulnerable to browser attack."

Browser security

Safari isn't the worst browser out there, but not by much (click to enlarge)

He pointed to recent research from his company that showed that while Safari isn't the most vulnerable browser out there, it's far from the best either. The AV-Comparitives test found that for phishing attacks, Safari stopped just 16 per cent of test malware, slightly ahead of Firefox but well behind Chrome and Internet Explorer.

The going price for a really extensive zero-day for operating systems could be as high as $200,000 on the vulnerability market, according to Tiffany Rad, analyst at Kaspersky Lab's global research & analysis team, and browser cracks are also valuable. But malware writers looking to economize are taking a cheaper option to crack systems.

"If you're a writer, it's a lot easier and cheaper to pack in a few hundred not-quite zero-day flaws into a piece of attack code, throw it out there, and see what sticks to systems," she told El Reg. "Given the updating habits of too many many security-software users, something usually gets through." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.