Risk
8/31/2010
12:48 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Dangerous Internet Explorer QuickTime Flaw Surfaces

Spanish security researcher Ruben Santamarta has discovered a way to exploit Apple QuickTime on Microsoft Windows systems and bypass advanced security defenses to take complete control of targeted systems.

Spanish security researcher Ruben Santamarta has discovered a way to exploit Apple QuickTime on Microsoft Windows systems and bypass advanced security defenses to take complete control of targeted systems.According to Santamarta's research, attackers can infiltrate users' systems by luring them to a maliciously crafted Web site. The vulnerability has been verified down to QuickTime version 4. Once exploited, Santamarta explains, the attacker can take control of the end user's system.

One of the interesting aspects of the vulnerability is that it bypasses both DEP (Data Execution Prevention) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization). DEP is designed, utilizing the processor, to block code from using certain areas designated for data. ASLR, as its name implies, randomizes where code is loaded into memory thereby making it more difficult to exploit. ASLR was made available with Vista, while DEP dates back to Windows XP service pack 2.

A detailed description of the exploit is available here. And, says Santamarta, the exploit code was submitted to the security penetration testing tool MetaSploit. Expect this attack to be widely known soon.

Dennis Fisher of ThreatPost spoke with HD Moore, curator of Metaploit:

"The Quicktime plugin is widely installed and exploitable through IE; ASLR and DEP are not effective in this case and we will likely see this in the wild," said HD Moore, founder of the Metasploit Project.

Moore added that it looks right now as though the bug is exploitable only through Internet Explorer, and is likely to be exploited through drive-by download attacks.

I'm afraid Moore is probably right, and it's quite possible these attacks start spiking in the next few days, just in time for the Labor Day weekend.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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