Monthly Archives: March 2019

Pwn2Own 2019 Results

TL DR: With popular products such as the Tesla Model 3, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Oracle VirtualBox, VMware Workstation Pro and Microsoft Edge being successfully exploited; please install the necessary updates when they become available.

The annual white hat hacking contest known as Pwn2Own took place last week. Detailed results from all 3 days are available from this link.

Day 3 saw initially two teams attempting to exploit a Tesla Model 3 before one withdrew. The team Fluoroacetate made up of both Richard Zhu and Amat Cama successfully exploited the infotainment system of the Tesla earning them a further $35,000 and the car itself. They earned $375k in total and became the Master of Pwn for 2019. The contest overall distributed $545k for 19 vulnerabilities.

In contrast to previous years the researchers have targeted vulnerabilities other than those within the operating system kernel (defined) to obtain a total system compromise. Only 3 times were exploits on the OS kernel used this year (one exploit was used in conjunction when exploiting each of the web browsers Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox).

We can expect updates for each of the exploited products over the coming weeks and months (the vendors have up to 120 days to resolve the vulnerabilities before public disclosure). Mozilla released Firefox 66.0.1 and 60.6.1 to resolve the 2 Firefox CVEs (defined) disclosed during the contest.

If you use the affected products, please keep current with the necessary updates. Thank you.

Blog Post Shout Out March 2019

TL DR: If a device that stores your personal information has reached the end of it’s life, please strongly consider erasing it correctly before recycling or disposing of it.

A security researcher from Rapid7 purchased 85 used pieces of technology to check them for data left behind by their previous owners. 80 of the devices had data still remaining on them.

He was able to uncover the following:

  • 214,019 images, 3,406 documents and 148,903 email messages
  • 611 email addresses, 50 dates of birth, 41 Social Security numbers, 19 credit-card numbers, six driver’s license numbers and two passport numbers.

For these reasons I wanted to provide a respectful shout out to the following blog post by Josh Frantz of Rapid7:

When our devices have reached the end of their useful life we need to become better at removing our data from them. Please find below recommended guides for Apple iPhones, Google Android device and hard disks (both RAID and simple disk set ups). My thanks to Mr. Josh Frantz for collecting these links within his post.

Thank you.

Apple iPhone:

Google Android:

Hard disks (typically how they are set up):

Hard disks (when used in a RAID configuration):

March 2019 Update Summary

Updated: 21st March 2019
Two of the vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft (CVE-2019-0797CVE-2019-0808) were zero day (defined) vulnerabilities being actively exploited in the wild. Four other vulnerabilities were publicly known (CVE-2019-0683CVE-2019-0754CVE-2019-0757 and CVE-2019-0809).

Separately the Google Chrome vulnerability mentioned below namely CVE-2019-5786 was also being exploited by attackers.

After publishing my original post; Adobe and Microsoft jointly reported that while a newer version ( of Flash Player was made available it only resolves non-security bugs.

I have updated the suggested installation order (below) to reflect this new information. Thank you.

Original Post:
As scheduled; earlier today Microsoft and Adobe made available their security updates. Microsoft addressed 65 vulnerabilities (more formally known as CVEs (defined)) with Adobe resolving 2 vulnerabilities.

For Adobe; if you have not already done so; if you manage an installation of Adobe ColdFusion or know someone who does, please apply the necessary updates made available earlier this month. That update addressed a single priority 1 zero day (defined) vulnerability being exploited in the wild. Today’s Adobe updates are as follows:

Adobe Digital Editions: 1x priority 3 CVE resolved

Adobe Photoshop CC: 1x priority3 CVE resolved

If you use the affected Adobe products; please install their remaining priority 3 updates when you can.

This month’s list of Known Issues is now sorted by Microsoft within their monthly summary page and applies to all currently supported operating systems:

KB4489878          Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (Monthly Rollup)

KB4489881          Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 (Monthly Rollup)

KB4489882          Windows 10 version 1607, Windows Server 2016

KB4489883          Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 (Security-only update)

KB4489884          Windows Server 2012 (Security-only update)

KB4489885          Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (Security-only update)

KB4489891          Windows Server 2012 (Monthly Rollup)

KB4489899          Windows 10 version 1809, Windows Server 2019

You can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page:

US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates.

News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected)

Windows Kernel: CVE-2019-0797CVE-2019-0808

Windows DHCP Client: CVE-2019-0697 , CVE-2019-0698 , CVE-2019-0726

Microsoft XML: CVE-2019-0756

Scripting Engine: CVE-2019-0592 , CVE-2019-0746 , CVE-2019-0639 , CVE-2019-0783 , CVE-2019-0609 , CVE-2019-0611 , CVE-2019-0666 , CVE-2019-0769 , CVE-2019-0665 , CVE-2019-0667 , CVE-2019-0680 , CVE-2019-0773 , CVE-2019-0770 , CVE-2019-0771 , CVE-2019-0772

Visual Studio Remote Code Execution Vulnerability: CVE-2019-0809

Microsoft Active Directory: CVE-2019-0683

NuGet Package Manager Tampering Vulnerability: CVE-2019-0757

Windows Denial of Service Vulnerability: CVE-2019-0754

Microsoft Dynamics 365: a privilege escalation vulnerability (defined) has been addressed (this product is also widely deployed)

If you use Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Services), please review advisory: ADV190005

Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As always; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

Google Chrome:
Google released Google Chrome version 72.0.3626.121 to address a single zero day (defined) vulnerability under active exploit. The vulnerability was a high severity use-after-free (defined) flaw in Chrome’s FileReader API (defined) which could have led to information disclosure of files stored on the same system as Chrome is installed.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 stacked small horizontal lines, sometimes called a “hamburger” button) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

Notepad++ 7.6.4 was released on the 6th of March resolving 8 security issues. This version follows another from January which resolved 7 other vulnerabilities. If you use Notepad++, please update to the newest version to benefit from these security fixes.

Notepad++ 7.6.6 was released to resolve a critical regression in 7.6.5 which caused Notepad++ to crash. Version 7.6.5 resolved a further 6 security vulnerabilities.

If you use Notepad++, please update to the newest version to benefit from these reliability and security fixes.

Thank you.

Mozilla Firefox
Update: 25th March 2019: As detailed in the Pwn2Own 2019 results post; Mozilla released a further update for Firefox and Firefox ESR bringing their version numbers to 66.0.1 and 60.6.1 respectively. Both updates resolve 2x critical CVEs. Please consider updating to these versions as soon as possible.

In the latter half of March Mozilla issued updates for Firefox 66 and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) 60.6:

Firefox 66.0: Resolves 5x critical CVEs (defined), 7x high CVEs, 5x moderate CVEs and 4x low CVEs

Firefox 60.6: Resolves 4x critical critical CVEs, 4x high CVEs and 2x moderate CVEs

Firefox 66 introduces better reliability (since crashes have been reduced) and improved performance. In addition, smooth scrolling has been added. The blocking of websites automatically playing audio or video content is now also present. These and other features are discussed in more depth here and here.

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to benefit from the above changes.

VMware issued 2 security advisories during March:
Security Advisory 1: Addresses 2x important severity CVEs in the following products:

VMware Player
VMware Workstation Pro

Security Advisory 2: Addresses 1x moderate severity CVE in the following products:

VMware Horizon

If you use the above VMware products, please review the security advisories and apply the necessary updates.

Putty, the open source and highly popular SSH (defined) client for Windows, was updated to version 0.71 in mid-March. It contains 8 security fixes (see below). They are a result of the bug bounties awarded through the EU-Free and Open Source Software Auditing (EU-FOSSA) (discussed previously in this post). Version 0.71 is downloadable from here.

If you use Putty, please update it to version 0.71. Thank you.

Security vulnerabilities fixed:


Nvidia Geforce Experience Software:
In late March , Nvidia released a security advisory for their Geforce Experience software for Windows. This update resolves 1 high severity vulnerabilities (as per their CVSS base scores). The necessary updates can be applied by opening Geforce Experience which will automatically updated it or the update can be obtained from here.

GOG Galaxy
Golden Old Games (GOG) has published an update for their popular game distribution platform GOG Galaxy. It resolves 2 critical vulnerabilities. Additionally, 2 high severity and 2x medium severity vulnerabilities were also resolved. These vulnerabilities are discussed in more detail in this Cisco Talos blog post and within this Kaspersky ThreatPost article. Please update GOG Galaxy to version or later to resolve these vulnerabilities.

I don’t often post about vulnerabilities in gaming clients/gaming distribution clients but like any software; security updates can and are made available for them.

Windows Exploit Suggester Utility

An updated version of a lightweight utility has been made available on GitHub that provides the useful capability of listing missing security updates on your system and matching them against and listing known exploits for those vulnerabilities.

This tool was released in 2014 but has been updated to work with Microsoft’s Security Updates Guide. While there are others tools such as Belarc Advisor this tool may be useful if you want something lightweight and don’t want to be locked to a specific tool vendor.

A guide to using the tool provided by BleepingComputer is here. I’ll try this tool and update this post with how it worked on my systems.

Thank you.

Responding to the Intel Spoiler Vulnerability

Updated: 20th March 2019
The Intel Spoiler vulnerability is not as bad as predicted. Software developers should continue to use safer code development practices.

After the disclosure earlier this month of this vulnerability Intel have provided further information on how it affects their microprocessors. They have clarified that the Spoiler exploit by itself does not reveal secret data and is not a speculative execution side channel method:

Other good news is that existing mitigations such as KPTI (kernel page table isolation) reduce the risk of leaking data across privilege levels. They again confirmed that side channel safe software development practices such as “ensuring execution time and control flows are identical regardless of secret data” will mitigate classic side channel methods enabled by the Spoiler exploit. Furthermore, they confirmed memory modules which are already mitigated against Rowhammer attacks remain protected against the Spoiler exploit.

Lastly AMD provided formal confirmation that their microprocessors are not vulnerable after preliminary findings suggested they weren’t vulnerable. AMD’s statement is available from this link.

Thank you.

Original Post:
Earlier this month a new vulnerability was disclosed in a research paper titled “Spoiler: Speculative load hazards boost Rowhammer and cache attacks”.

TL DR: Mitigating this newly disclosed vulnerability is the job of software developers to work around using safer code development practices. Mitigating this issue in hardware will take longer since current measures cause too much of a performance penalty.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
Using this new method; attackers are likely to find existing cache and memory Rowhammer attacks easier to carry out. In addition, JavaScript (defined) attacks which can take long periods of time may be shortened to mere seconds. The paper contains a cache prime and probe technique to leak sensitive data using JavaScript.

This Spoiler vulnerability can be used by attackers (who MUST have already compromised your system) to extract sensitive information from the systems memory (RAM). An attack does not require elevated privileges.

What CPUs (microprocessors / computer chips) are affected?
This vulnerability affects Intel processors only; first generation Intel Core (from early 2006) and later are affected. ARM and AMD processors are not affected. Any system with an Intel Core processor is affected regardless of the operating they are using namely Linux, Unix, Apple macOS and Windows can be all affected.

How does this vulnerability achieve the above results?
The security researchers who authored the paper found a vulnerability in the memory order buffer that can be used to gradually reveal information about the mappings of physical memory to non-privileged software processes (in other words; applications). This technique also affects virtual machine (VM) and sandboxed (defined) environments.

The technique works by understanding the relationship between virtual and physical memory by timing the speculative load and store operations to these areas while looking out for discrepancies which disclose the memory layout to you. With this information an attacker knows where to focus their efforts.

Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem (memory disambiguation) is the root cause of the vulnerability. When a physical address conflict (the address/area is already in use) occurs, the algorithm leaks the access timings. The algorithm in the researcher’s words works as follows “Our algorithm, fills up the store buffer within the processors with addresses that have the same offset but they are in different virtual pages. Then, we issue a memory load that has the same offset similarly but from a different memory page and measure the time of the load. By iterating over a good number of virtual pages, the timing reveals information about the dependency resolution failures in multiple stages.”

How can this vulnerability be mitigated/patched?
This vulnerability lies within the memory disambiguation algorithm which won’t be trivial to resolve anytime soon. Since this vulnerability is not related to last years Spectre vulnerability; mitigations for that vulnerability don’t help here. Current Spoiler mitigations have too much of performance penalty. At this time, Intel has issued the following statement:

“Intel received notice of this research, and we expect that software can be protected against such issues by employing side channel safe development practices. This includes avoiding control flows that are dependent on the data of interest. We likewise expect that DRAM modules mitigated against Rowhammer style attacks remain protected. Protecting our customers and their data continues to be a critical priority for us and we appreciate the efforts of the security community for their ongoing research.”

The side channel safe development practices are linked to below:

Software Guidance for Security Advisories

Addressing Hardware Vulnerabilities

Thank you.