Feeds

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

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
SHELLSHOCKED: Fortune 1000 outfits Bash out batches of patches
CloudPassage points to 'pervasive' threat of Bash bug
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.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.