Microsoft rushes clutch patch for 'deep' bug in Windows, third-party apps
Researchers say move may be tied to this week's Black Hat security conference
Computerworld - The emergency patches Microsoft plans to rush out this week will fix a flaw that runs through several critical components of Windows and an unknown number of third-party applications, according to a pair of security researchers.
On Tuesday, Microsoft will slap a permanent patch on a video streaming ActiveX control used by Internet Explorer (IE), addressing a vulnerability that it has known about, but not fixed, for more than a year. Two weeks ago, Microsoft issued a "kill bit" update that, rather than address the underlying problem, disabled the ActiveX control to stymie attacks that were already in progress. It's also slated a fix for Visual Studio, Microsoft's popular development platform.
Although Microsoft has not spelled out exactly what it will patch with the two "out-of-band" updates -- the term for security updates released outside the company's once-a-month schedule -- earlier this month researchers pointed fingers at the Active Template Library (ATL), a code "library" used not only by Microsoft's own developers, but also by third-party software programmers to access some features within Windows.
Two German researchers -- Thomas Dullien, the CEO and head of research at Zynamics GmbH, and Dennis Elser -- dug into the bug within the ActiveX control, the "msvidctl.dll" file, that streams video content. They found that it stemmed from a simple programming mistake in a function called "ATL::CComVariant::ReadFromStream."
"Instead of passing a pointer to a data buffer to IStream::Read, it took the address of a (small) local variable, and passes this address as output buffer to IStream::Read, along with a length read from the stream previously," said Dullien, who goes by the moniker "Halvar Flake" when writing about security vulnerabilities. "Somebody clearly got confused," he added in a blog entry posted July 9.
The result? Although Microsoft shut off current attacks against the ActiveX control, the programming mistake is present in several other Windows files -- at least five in XP, at least 13 in Vista -- including ones crucial to IE, Windows Media Player and Terminal Services.
"The bug is actually much 'deeper' than most people realize," said Dullien, "[and] the kill-bit fix is clearly insufficient, as there are bound to be many other ways of triggering the issue."
Additionally, said Dullien and Elser, third-party developers may have used the same flawed library to create their own applications. "The bug might have weaseled its way into third-party components, if anyone outside of Microsoft had access to the broken ATL versions," said Dullien. "If this has happened, Microsoft might have accidentally introduced security vulnerabilities into third-party products." Dullien claimed that older versions of Adobe's Flash contained the vulnerability.
- Tor Project working to fix weakness that can unmask users
- Virtru launches business email encryption service for Google Apps
- Black Hat presentation on TOR suddenly cancelled
- Goodwill Industries probes possible payment card breach
- Stealthy Web tracking tools pose increasing privacy risks to users
- AirMagnet Wi-Fi security tool takes aim at drones
- EFF releases Chrome, Firefox plugin to block third-party tracking
- Open Wireless Router project aims for better router security, network performance
- Stealthy ransomware 'Critroni' uses Tor, could replace Cryptolocker
- U.S. court says warrant for access to all content of email account is justified
- Mobile First: Securing Information Sprawl Learn how the partnership between Box and MobileIron can help you execute a "mobile first" strategy that manages and secures both mobile apps...
- Cybersecurity Imperatives: Reinvent your Network Security The Rise of CyberSecurity
- Surescripts Case Study- Securing Keys and Certificates Surescripts implemented Venafi's Trust Protection Platform™ to secure digital keys and certificates, ensure the privacy and confidentiality of electronic clinical information for its...
- Ponemon 2014 SSH Security Vulnerability Report According to research by the Ponemon Institute, 3 out of 4 enterprises have no security controls in place for SSH which leaves organizations...
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.
- Deep Dive into Advanced Networking and Security with Hybrid Cloud Security and networking are among the top concerns when moving workloads to the cloud. VMware vCloud® Hybrid Service™ enables you to extend your... All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!