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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

1/14/2015
10:30 AM
Giora Engel
Giora Engel
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

4 Mega-Vulnerabilities Hiding in Plain Sight

How four recently discovered, high-impact vulnerabilities provided "god mode" access to 90% of the Internet for 15 years, and what that means for the future.

The Kerberos Checksum Vulnerability disclosed last month was just the latest in a string of massive vulnerabilities that were discovered over the course of only eight months last year. Did I say massive? More like earth-shattering, and potentially destructive (in computer terms) on a Biblical scale. Not for nothing have we taken to referring to them as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Although they may not be heralding the actual Judgment Day, these four vulnerabilities should serve as a wakeup call to anyone even remotely concerned about information security.

The four were disclosed between April and November of last year. Individually, each was referred to as a “black swan event,” or a “unicorn.” We question this attempt to emphasize the rarity and unpredictability of such vulnerabilities. Four in less than a year? This would seem like a flock of black swans or a herd of unicorns. What if these types of potentially devastating flaws are not as rare as we thought? What if these four, as with the actual horsemen, are the harbingers of far, far worse?

By way of reminder, the four vulnerabilities, in order of disclosure, are:
●   Heartbleed (CVE-2014-0160)
●   Shellshock (CVE-2014-6271 and CVE-2014-7169)
●   Winshock (CVE-2014-6332) (aka “Windows OLE Automation Array Remote Code Execution Vulnerability”)
●   Kerberos Checksum Vulnerability (CVE-2014-6324)

Why are these four so significant? Let’s take a look at what makes them stand out.

Wildly massive scope
If it has a processor and is connected to the Internet, one of these four can (and probably did) directly and significantly affect it:
●   Heartbleed. Impacts encrypted Web communications to over 66 % of Web servers
●   Shellshock. Impacts any UNIX/Linux server
●   Winshock. Impacts any Windows workstation
●   Kerberos Checksum. Impacts any Windows-based managed network

This means that a hacker with prior knowledge of these vulnerabilities could easily:
●     Gain access to any Web server’s private certificate and use it to eavesdrop on encrypted Web traffic or perform man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks
●     Perform remote code execution (meaning “do whatever he or she wants”) on any UNIX/Linux internet servers
●     Run any code with the highest privileges on any Windows workstation just by having it surf to a specially crafted Web page (a.k.a. a “drive-by attack”)
●     Gain unlimited (“domain admin”) privileges over managed corporate networks (which represent over 90% of corporate networks today)

Unbelievable age
Unlike malware or various recently-damaging and sophisticated cyberattacks, which were created and discovered in the modern era, some of these vulnerabilities have been around since many security admins were in diapers.
●     Shellshock: existent for 25 years
●     Winshock: existent for 19 years
●     Kerberos Checksum Vulnerability: existent for 14 years
●     Heartbleed: existent for “only” two years

This means that these high-impact vulnerabilities remained unnoticed and were hiding in plain sight for an average of 15 years. Even with all the super-talented security researchers looking for weaknesses, performing code reviews and more, these vulnerabilities continued to provide “god mode” access to 90% of the Internet.

Covering all sources
Our four vulnerabilities equally covered open and closed source systems -- none were immune:
●     Heartbleed -- open source
●     Shellshock -- open source
●     Winshock - -closed source
●     Kerberos Checksum -- closed source

What else is lurking
Companies should initiate targeted efforts to expose and mitigate the hidden breaches that lurk in their networks, especially since we now know that some of the core IT system infrastructure that we’ve trusted and used for decades is vulnerable. Security experts everywhere should understand that the (figurative) apocalypse is already upon us. Our networks are already breached.

Security practitioners also need to pursue attackers actively and continuously throughout the internal network in order to find those that have circumvented traditional threat prevention systems by exploiting the unknown vulnerabilities like those listed above. We need to identify the behavior of these attackers as early as possible by identifying the subtle changes in user behavior that can indicate malicious attack behavior. Then, even if attackers are able to find these vulnerabilities, we can minimize or even eliminate the potential damage if we find them early in the attack lifecycle. That should be the goal in this new reality that we live in.

Giora Engel, vice president, product & strategy at LightCyber is a serial entrepreneur with many years of technological and managerial experience. For nearly a decade, he served as an officer in an elite technological unit in the Israel Defense Forces, where he initiated and ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
1/16/2015 | 8:56:21 AM
Incident Response
This article points out great points as to why an efficient Incident Response Team is imperative to have in the enterprise. With multi-department involvement the organization can quickly plan and mitigate the threat if it applies to them. Without one you leave your organization at risk for years to come. I would imagine that the 4 unicorns are still prevalent in a majority of enterprises due to lack of a formidable incident response team.
RDP Bug Takes New Approach to Host Compromise
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/18/2019
The Problem with Proprietary Testing: NSS Labs vs. CrowdStrike
Brian Monkman, Executive Director at NetSecOPEN,  7/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10101
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
WebAppick WooCommerce Product Feed 2.2.18 and earlier is affected by: Cross Site Scripting (XSS). The impact is: XSS to RCE via editing theme files in WordPress. The component is: admin/partials/woo-feed-manage-list.php:63. The attack vector is: Administrator must be logged in.
CVE-2019-10101
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
VCFTools vcfools prior to version 0.1.15 is affected by: Heap Use-After-Free. The impact is: Denial of Service or possibly unspecified impact (eg. code execution or information disclosure). The component is: The header::add_FILTER_descriptor method in header.cpp. The attack vector is: The victim mus...
CVE-2019-10173
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
It was found that xstream API version 1.4.10 before 1.4.11 introduced a regression for a previous deserialization flaw. If the security framework has not been initialized, it may allow a remote attacker to run arbitrary shell commands when unmarshalling XML or any supported format. e.g. JSON. (regre...
CVE-2019-14241
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
HAProxy through 2.0.2 allows attackers to cause a denial of service (ha_panic) via vectors related to htx_manage_client_side_cookies in proto_htx.c.
CVE-2019-10101
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
MODX Revolution Gallery 1.7.0 is affected by: CWE-434: Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type. The impact is: Creating file with custom a filename and content. The component is: Filtering user parameters before passing them into phpthumb class. The attack vector is: web request via /assets/...