Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

7/27/2018
05:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Automating Kernel Exploitation for Better Flaw Remediation

Black Hat researchers plan on open sourcing a new framework they say can help organizations get a better rein on vulnerability fixes for kernel bugs.

The explosive disclosure of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were like a detonator on the already incendiary field of kernel vulnerabilities this year. Security researchers had previously been ramping up their exploration of kernel bugs, but this year the discoveries have mushroomed considerably.

As CISOs and security personnel seek to mitigate the risk of kernel-level attacks, they're going to need a better way to prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation. A group of researchers set to present at Black Hat USA in a couple of weeks are preparing to offer them a new exploit framework that they say can help security pros do exactly that. 

"Over the past eight months, Syzbot--an automated tool to identify kernel bugs and vulnerabilities--has flagged about 800 kernel bugs," explains Jimmy Su, who leads the JD security research center in Silicon Valley. "However, the Linux kernel community has limited manpower to patch these bugs quickly."

Together with academic researchers Wei Wu and Xinyu Xing of Penn State University, Su will present a new open source framework that they say can help security pros craft "powerful working exploits against arbitrary kernel vulnerabilities in a semi-automated fashion." 

Along with the unveiling of the framework, the trio plans on disclosing a number of working exploits against several kernel vulnerabilities—about half of which had not seen confirmed examples of exploitability in the past. 

"The exploit automation technique is a tool the community can use to quickly assess the exploitability of these bugs, allowing them to prioritize their remediation efforts based on the ease of exploitation," he says. "The goal is to patch kernel bugs with high risks in a timely fashion and reduce the amount of time Linux machines would remain vulnerable."  

While automated exploit generation is hardly a new thing, generating exploits for operating system kernel flaws is notoriously tricky due to complexity and scalability issues, Su and his compatriots say. The new framework they present uses kernel fuzzing and symbolic execution to prod flaws for exploitability under a number of different kernel panic contexts. It provides analysts with three major capabilities; It'll automate identification of system calls needed to exploit the vulnerability, it'll offer automated security mitigation bypassing, and it will automatically generate exploits with different objectives, such as privilege escalation or data leakage.  

Su believes that security teams should generally be leaning on exploit automation as a method for prioritizing vulnerability remediation.

"Every week, an enterprise might handle hundreds or even thousands of software bugs and most organizations don’t have sufficient manpower to sift through and patch these bugs rapidly," he says. "Exploitation automation techniques give an enterprise the ability to identify high-risk bugs and prioritize their remediation efforts accordingly." 

This holds true whether the issues are kernel flaws or not. 

"Though our research demonstrates exploit automation in the context of Linux kernel, our techniques can be generally applied to other daily software," he says. "As such, CISOs can use our technique to prioritize their remediation efforts (and scale) their software security for their daily operation."

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.

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
9 Tips to Prepare for the Future of Cloud & Network Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/28/2020
Malware Attacks Declined But Became More Evasive in Q2
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  9/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-12505
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
Improper Authentication vulnerability in WAGO 750-8XX series with FW version <= FW07 allows an attacker to change some special parameters without authentication. This issue affects: WAGO 750-852 version FW07 and prior versions. WAGO 750-880/xxx-xxx version FW07 and prior versions. WAGO 750-881 ve...
CVE-2020-12506
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
Improper Authentication vulnerability in WAGO 750-8XX series with FW version <= FW03 allows an attacker to change the settings of the devices by sending specifically constructed requests without authentication This issue affects: WAGO 750-362 version FW03 and prior versions. WAGO 750-363 version ...
CVE-2020-4629
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
IBM WebSphere Application Server 7.0, 8.0, 8.5, and 9.0 could allow a local user with specialized access to obtain sensitive information from a detailed technical error message. This information could be used in further attacks against the system. IBM X-Force ID: 185370.
CVE-2019-17098
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
Use of hard-coded cryptographic key vulnerability in August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge App, Connect Firmware allows an attacker to decrypt an intercepted payload containing the Wi-Fi network authentication credentials. This issue affects: August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge App version v10.11.0 and prior version...
CVE-2020-15731
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
An improper Input Validation vulnerability in the code handling file renaming and recovery in Bitdefender Engines allows an attacker to write an arbitrary file in a location hardcoded in a specially-crafted malicious file name. This issue affects: Bitdefender Engines versions prior to 7.85448.