Threat Intelligence

7/31/2018
03:50 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Hundreds of Registry Keys Exposed to Microsoft COM Hijacking

Experts believe there could be thousands more in the wild.

Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) hijacking is an old type of cyberattack getting a new spin as attackers find stealthy ways to maintain persistence and evade detection.

The Microsoft COM is a system integrated into Windows to facilitate interaction between software components through the operating system. COM is managed in the Windows registry, which contains keys that reference Phantom COM objects. These objects could refer to files that no longer exist on the hard drive and include old applications or obsolete programs.

Even if files are gone, registry keys will continue to refer to them. If an attacker hijacks a phantom COM object ID of a trusted application and instead uses it for a malicious file, he can load and execute the file onto the OS. So long as the COM object ID (CLSID) has been registered as a legitimate object, the malicious file will appear legitimate and bypass security tools.

Security tools often miss COM hijacking because hundreds of CLSIDs are available and are all connected to common Windows processes, such as explorer.exe, chrome.exe, svchost, and iexplore. New ones appear each day, making it tough for systems to keep up.

COM hijacking is now gaining popularity as attackers seek new ways to maintain persistence without autorun entries, which are easy to map, explains Cyberbit research director Meir Brown, in a new report on the attack vector. Researchers found hundreds of registry keys are vulnerable to COM hijacking, far more than was first believed.

"We knew COM hijacking was used for persistence and have seen some of this used for injection, but didn't know the scale of this phenomenon – how many entries there are in the registry which are vulnerable to COM hijacking," Meir explains. The tactic is commonly referred to as a persistence mechanism, but it's also one of the most effective ways to achieve stealth.

Hunting Registry Keys Online
Researchers ran a proof-of-concept experiment in which they put themselves in the attackers' shoes and sought out Phantom COM objects to take over. They mapped registry keys that failed to find and load a file, and tried to use those keys to load a fake dynamic link library (DLL).

The trial was a "troubling" success, says Brown, as researchers were able to load and run their DLL within the context of valid applications. The Windows machine loaded all of their objects without any side effects.

As they hunted for keys online, researchers found multiple samples using these keys in the wild. Hundreds of keys are vulnerable to COM hijacking and Phantom COM objects loading, they concluded. The process is easy for attackers to implement and doesn't require them to leverage code injection, a technique more frequently picked up by detection platforms.

COM hijacking is considered dangerous because it runs using legitimate user privileges, doesn't require reboot, and does reveal suspicious activity to the target, Meir says. It's gaining popularity; organizations should be aware and monitor the registry.

Researchers believe the scope of this issue goes far beyond the hundreds of potential vulnerabilities they found and could potentially reach into the thousands. Further, while COM hijacking is used in the wild, it remains less common than registry run key and injection tactics.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
seanmajece
50%
50%
seanmajece,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/2/2018 | 5:44:48 AM
My opinion
In my opinion, it will be better for users to use IOS these adys.
Devastating Cyberattack on Email Provider Destroys 18 Years of Data
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  2/12/2019
Up to 100,000 Reported Affected in Landmark White Data Breach
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/12/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-8354
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-15
An issue was discovered in SoX 14.4.2. lsx_make_lpf in effect_i_dsp.c has an integer overflow on the result of multiplication fed into malloc. When the buffer is allocated, it is smaller than expected, leading to a heap-based buffer overflow.
CVE-2019-8355
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-15
An issue was discovered in SoX 14.4.2. In xmalloc.h, there is an integer overflow on the result of multiplication fed into the lsx_valloc macro that wraps malloc. When the buffer is allocated, it is smaller than expected, leading to a heap-based buffer overflow in channels_start in remix.c.
CVE-2019-8356
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-15
An issue was discovered in SoX 14.4.2. One of the arguments to bitrv2 in fft4g.c is not guarded, such that it can lead to write access outside of the statically declared array, aka a stack-based buffer overflow.
CVE-2019-8357
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-15
An issue was discovered in SoX 14.4.2. lsx_make_lpf in effect_i_dsp.c allows a NULL pointer dereference.
CVE-2013-2516
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-15
Vulnerability in FileUtils v0.7, Ruby Gem Fileutils <= v0.7 Command Injection vulnerability in user supplied url variable that is passed to the shell.