Jul 21, 2010

Microsoft Zero-Day: Malformed Shortcut Vulnerability

Microsoft Zero-Day: Malformed Shortcut Vulnerability:
"Today Microsoft updated the security advisory that was initially published last Friday (July 16), stating that they’re working on issuing a security patch for this vulnerability. Earlier, malware exploiting this issue was found in the wild. Researchers at McAfee Labs have been busy tracking this issue over the weekend and we have come up with some more quick Q&A’s.

1. What is the issue with .LNK files and how can it be exploited?

A. McAfee Labs researchers analyzed malware that was exploiting a design flaw in parsing shortcut (.LNK) files. This issue gets triggered because the Windows Shell component does not validate parameters sent out in the shortcut. This issue can be exploited via any mechanism that makes the user load the icon of the .LNK file.

2. Does the malware need a payload (shellcode) to exploit this flaw?

A. Since this is a design issue in the way shortcuts are parsed, no malicious payload (shellcode) is required to exploit this flaw. The .LNK file needs to point to a malicious file, the path of which needs to be hardcoded in the shortcut.

3. What are the requirements to successfully exploit this flaw?

A. This flaw can be triggered when Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer tries to render a malformed .LNK file that points to a malicious executable. The user need not double-click on the .LNK file to trigger the vulnerability; just opening the folder containing the malicious shortcut is enough to get infected.

4. What are the most likely attack vectors used to exploit this vulnerability?

A. USB drives are likely to be affected the most. The malware discovered in the wild was exploiting this issue via a USB drive. File sharing over SMB is another likely vector to exploit this flaw and this can lead to widespread malware infections over internal networks. WebDAV shares are equally susceptible to exploitation.

5. What are the affected platforms?

A. Microsoft has acknowledged that all supported platforms are affected. More details are available in the Microsoft security advisory. Windows XP SP2 is not listed in the list of affected platforms from Microsoft, so there is a chance of Windows XP SP2 users might remain vulnerable.

6. How widely is the issue being exploited?

A. The issue is known to be exploited by malware in the wild. Initial attacks were limited. However, an exploit module in metasploit was published today that uses WebDAV shares as an exploit vector. We expect wider exploitation of this issue. Users should keep their anti-virus software updated with the latest DATs (signatures).

We’ll keep our readers updated on this issue as we analyze more malware and techniques used by malware writers to exploit this flaw."

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