Attacks exploiting RealPlayer zero-day in progress
Buggy ActiveX control also implicates Internet Explorer, says Symantec
Computerworld - Attackers are exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in RealPlayer in order to infect Windows machines running Internet Explorer, Symantec Corp. said late Thursday. The security company issued an alert that rated the threat with its highest possible score.
According to a warning issued to customers of its DeepSight threat network, Symantec said an ActiveX control installed by RealNetworks Inc.'s RealPlayer program is flawed. When combined with Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer (IE) browser -- which relies on ActiveX controls to extend its functionality -- the bug can be exploited and malicious code downloaded to any PC that wanders to a specially crafted site.
Only systems on which both RealPlayer and IE have been installed are vulnerable.
Symantec ranked the attack as a "10" on its urgency scale because it has confirmed that attacks are being conducted in the wild; those attacks have resulted in malicious code downloaded to victimized PCs. The only bright spot: "We are not currently aware of widespread exploitation of this issue," the company's warning read. In another section of the advisory, it listed just two IP addresses that it has found hosting exploits of the RealPlayer bug.
Multiple versions of RealPlayer install the ActiveX control, including the current 10.5 and the beta of Version 11. RealNetworks has not released a fix, but Symantec said it had informed the media player's maker of the bug.
"Attacks that exploit this issue may get delivered to a victim through various means, most typically, though, this style of attack is carried out through malicious Web content," said Symantec. "For example, the exploit could be embedded in the HTML of advertisements that are published on trusted Web sites, or could be embedded as an IFrame in a compromised Web domain."
Symantec also referenced a blog that had posted some information about the RealPlayer vulnerability Wednesday morning. The blogger, identified only as Roger, claimed that the NASA space agency has warned workers not to use IE because of an unspecified problem with RealPlayer.
Roger quoted from what he claimed was a NASA bulletin. "The malware appears to be spreading through a large variety of common and highly-respected Internet sites," the NASA warning reportedly said. "However it does not appear these sites are themselves infected. The affected sites are serving solely as a mechanism to attract potential victims." NASA's public affairs team at the Ames Research Center in northern California was not available for comment Thursday night.
Until RealNetworks releases a patch, Symantec said the best advice it can give is to disable the vulnerable ActiveX control by setting its "kill bit." To do that, however, requires editing the Windows registry, a task most users shy away from.
More information will be posted to this page on the SecurityFocus Web site, which Symantec operates, when it is available.
"Real is aware of this potential vulnerability and is working on a fix," RealNetworks' spokesman Ryan Luckin said Friday in an e-mail. Luckin, however, declined to say when the patch would be available or whether the company would issue a security advisory of its own in the meantime.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Gartner Report: A Guide to Gartner's Enterprise Mobile Security Self-Assessment Gartner introduces a model and a Toolkit intended to help mobility and security IT leaders assess their enterprise mobility programs from a security...
- Gartner Report: Containing Mobile Security Risks With the 80/20 Rule IT planners can deliver better mobile protection with higher user satisfaction by segmenting users into risk groups before committing to specific management or...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts