Feeds

Think unpatched Win XP hole's not a big deal? Hope you trust your local users

Vulnerability used to breathe life into Adobe Reader exploit, Microsoft warns

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

An unpatched vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 creates a means for hackers to gain admin rights on vulnerable Windows XP machines, Microsoft warned on Wednesday.

The zero-day local privilege escalation vulnerability is not suitable for remote code execution but might allow a standard user account to execute code in the kernel. As such, the bug is not that much use on its own, but potentially troublesome when mixed in a cocktail with other software vulnerabilities in order to formulate workable attacks.

Unfortunately this has already happened and the vulnerability has already been used in anger in conjunction with an Adobe Reader exploit to target a recently patched vulnerability in the widely used PDF reader software, anti-malware firm FireEye warns. Simply put, the Windows bug allows hackers to bypass Adobe's sandbox defences but only on older versions of Reader.

The combined exploit targets Adobe Reader 9.5.4, 10.1.6, 11.0.02 and prior on Windows XP SP3. XP users who are running the latest versions of Adobe Reader are immune from the attack, so upgrading to the latest version of Abode Reader is probably the best way of blocking potential attacks. Windows Server 2003 is also vulnerable to same privilege escalation vulnerability but are not anywhere near as at risk of attack (unless a BOFH opens a email containing rigged PDFs from a vulnerable server, or other unlikely scenarios), hence the focus on the millions upon millions of vulnerable Win XP systems.

Microsoft plays down the seriousness of the vulnerability while admitting it has been abused in "limited, targeted attacks".

The Adobe flaw was patched in August, according to cloud security firm Qualys.

"Users that have the latest version of Adobe Reader are immune to the attack, as well as users that are running on Windows Vista or later," Wolfgang Kandek, CTO a Qualys, explains in a blog post. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
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
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
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.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.