Old Apple QuickTime code puts IE users in harm's way
Exploit bypasses Windows' DEP, ASLR defenses, can be used in drive-by attacks
Computerworld - Apple's failure to clean up old code in QuickTime leaves people running Internet Explorer vulnerable to drive-by attacks, a Spanish security researcher said today.
Ruben Santamarta, a researcher at Madrid-based Wintercore who revealed a bug in IE8 last month, today outlined the QuickTime plug-in vulnerability.
Hackers only need to dupe users into visiting a malicious site hosting exploit code, said Santamarta, who added that his attack code works when someone browses with IE on a machine running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 that has QuickTime 7.x or the older QuickTime 6.x installed.
Santamarta's exploit works because Apple didn't tidy up QuickTime's code after developers dropped the "_Marshaled_pUnk" function.
"Although this functionality was removed in newer versions, the parameter is still present," Santamarta wrote in his advisory. "Why? I guess someone forgot to clean up the code."
His attack code also bypasses a pair of important security measures Microsoft has added to Windows: DEP (data execution prevention) and ASLR (address space layout randomization).
DEP and ASLR sidestepping isn't new: In late March, Dutch researcher Peter Vreugdenhil exploited a vulnerability in IE8 running on Windows 7 with attack code that evaded DEP and ASLR to win $10,000 at the fourth-annual Pwn2Own contest. And last month, Santamarta said that the IE8 bug he publicized could also be used to bypass the technologies.
"This issue can be used in a drive-by attack, as QuickTime is widely deployed, and for some reason people still [use] IE," said HD Moore, chief security officer at Rapid7 and the creator of the Metasploit penetration testing framework, in an e-mail. "Unlike other browser-based exploits, Windows 7 with ASLR/DEP will not make an appreciable difference due to the presence of an unprotected DLL within QuickTime itself."
In his advisory, Santamarta said he had sent details of his exploit to Metasploit. Moore confirmed that Metasploit developers are working on a module for the hacking tool kit and are shooting for a Tuesday release of a reliable exploit.
Like Santamarta, Moore believes that the bug was an oversight, not an intentional back door left by an Apple programmer.
Attacks that leverage Santamarta's bug will probably pop up soon, Moore added.
"This exploit will likely make it into the wild; the complete exploit details were provided as part of the initial blog post and with the QuickTime install base being what it is, there is incentive to include this vulnerability into the various [exploit] kits," Moore said.
Until Apple issues a patch, users can stymie attacks by uninstalling or disabling the QuickTime plug-in. Symantec recommended that users set the killbit for the QuickTime ActiveX control or rename the plug-in.
Instructions for setting an ActiveX control's killbit can be found on Microsoft's support site.
Apple last patched QuickTime for Windows on Aug. 11 when it shipped Version 7.6.7 to fix a different bug in the program's error logging.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Mac Pro shortage sets record as worst Mac production debacle
- Apple slates WWDC for June 2-6, sets up ticket lottery
- Apple patches Safari's Pwn2Own vulnerability, two-dozen other critical bugs
- Microsoft's free OneNote vaults to top of Mac App Store chart
- Apple discounts iPhone 5C 8%-9% in five markets via storage cuts
- Apple hands stock worth $12.1M to top execs in retention deal
- Hands on: Apple's Mac Pro is the fastest Mac ever
- Apple CFO to retire in September after he cashes in $53M stock award
- Apple's CarPlay to spark mobile apps war in your car
- Apple retires Snow Leopard from support, leaves 1 in 5 Macs vulnerable to attacks
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- 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... All Security White Papers | Webcasts