Tag Archives: Responsible Disclosure

Adobe Issues Further Security Updates

Early last week Adobe made available a further un-scheduled emergency security update available for download affecting Creative Cloud Desktop Application version 4.6.0 and earlier. This vulnerability impacts both Apple macOS and Windows systems.

If an attacker were to exploit this they could elevate their privileges (defined). As with the previous security update the vulnerability was responsibly disclosed (defined) to Adobe by Chi Chou of AntFinancial LightYear Labs.

Please follow the steps within this security bulletin to check if the version of Creative Cloud Desktop Application you are using is impacted and if so; follow the steps to install the relevant update.

Thank you.

Adobe Issues Critical Photoshop CC Security Updates

On Wednesday Adobe made available an out of band (un-scheduled) emergency update available for Photoshop CC for both Apple macOS and Windows systems.

Photoshop CC 2018 (versions 19.1.5 and earlier) and Photoshop 2017 (versions 18.1.5 and earlier) are affected by two critical memory corruption vulnerabilities. If an attacker were to exploit these they could achieve remote code execution (defined: the ability for an attacker to remotely carry out any action of their choice on your device). The vulnerabilities were responsibly disclosed (defined) by Kushal Arvind Shah of Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs to Adobe.

Please follow the steps within Adobe’s security bulletin to install the applicable updates as soon as possible if you use these products.

Thank you.

Apache Foundation Patches Critical Struts Vulnerability

Earlier this week the Apache Software Foundation made available patches for Apache Struts (a web application framework (defined)) bringing the applications active development branches to version 2.3.35 and 2.5.17. These versions addresses a remote code execution vulnerability (defined: the ability for an attacker to remotely carry out any action of their choice on your device) known as CVE-2018-11776. This vulnerability was responsibly disclosed (defined) by the security researcher; Man Yue Mo.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
A data breach at the credit rating agency Equifax last year occurred in part due to their lack of patching their affected web servers. The vulnerability resolved this week can be exploited by an attacker simply by visiting specifically crafted URL (defined) on the affected web server (defined). Once exploited the server can be completely under the attacker’s control.

Typically within days of a vulnerability being disclosed; attackers begin to target and exploit it. Compromised are web servers (which are already public facing and can be located using Shodan) can be used as an entry point into other areas of your corporate network. Any application making use of the Struts framework is vulnerable regardless if those applications use plugins.

How to tell if your installation of Apache Struts is vulnerable?
Your Apache Struts is vulnerable if both of the conditions listed below are true (my thanks to this Semmle blog post for this information):

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  1. The alwaysSelectFullNamespace flag is set to true in the Struts configuration. Note that this is automatically the case if your application uses the popular Struts Convention plugin.
  2. Your application uses actions that are configured without specifying a namespace, or with a wildcard namespace (e.g. “/*”). This applies to actions and namespaces specified in the Struts configuration file (e.g. <action namespace=”main”>), but also to actions and namespaces specified in Java code if you are using the Struts Convention plugin.

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How can I protect my web servers from this vulnerability?
Depending upon which version of Apache Struts your web server is using; please upgrade to version 2.3.35 or 2.5.17 as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Vendors Respond to Spectre NG Vulnerabilities

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Update: 24th July 2018
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I have updated the list of vendor responses below to include further Red Hat versions and CentOS:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7:
https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2018:1629

CentOS 6:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-July/022968.html

CentOS 7:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-May/022843.html
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Update: 19th June 2018
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Last Wednesday, the security news and troubleshooting website BleepingComputer published a table detailing the complete list of updates required to mitigate the Meltdown, Spectre and SpectreNG (also known as Spectre variant 4) vulnerabilities for all recent versions of Windows. This is very useful because I realise my previous blog post on Meltdown and Spectre was at times hard to follow (it has a lot of info within it).

As of Tuesday, 12th June Microsoft have released updates to address SpectreNG. While you can install these updates Microsoft have advised their security protections will not be enabled unless you choose to do so. This is due to the lower risk of SpectreNG and also given that enabling the security enhancements of these updates can lead to a performance penalty of up to 8% (as I detailed below).

Microsoft provide step by step advice and guidance if you wish to enable these updates within this security advisory. It is likely other OS vendors will take a similar approach e.g. Red Hat may also choose to distribute these updates but not enable them so as to work around the performance penalty.

For more information on the semi-related Intel Lazy Floating point vulnerability, please see my separate post.

Thank you.

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Original Post
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On Monday more details of these vulnerabilities were made available by affected vendors among them Red Hat, Google, Intel, IBM and Microsoft. There are two new vulnerabilities named:

Rogue System Register Read (Spectre Variant 3a) (CVE-2018-3640)

Speculative Store Bypass (SSB) (Spectre Variant 4) (CVE-2018-3639)

Why should these vulnerabilities be considered important?

Rogue System Register Read cannot be leveraged by an external attacker; they must instead log onto a vulnerable system and carry out further steps to exploit it. Once exploited the attacker may be able to obtain sensitive information by reading system parameters via side-channel analysis.

For Windows; successful exploitation of this vulnerability will bypass Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR) protections. I have talked about ASLR (defined) before but provides this link more detail on kernel ASLR.

Google Project Zero’s Jann Horn and Microsoft’s Ken Johnson first reported Speculative Store Bypass. It can possibly be used by attacker externally (from the internet). I use the term “possibly” since the mitigations added to web browsers following Spectre variant 2 earlier this year will make it more difficult for an attacker to do so. Indeed, Intel rates the risk as “moderate.” This is a more serious vulnerability which may allow an attacker access to read privileged memory areas. An example would be a script running in one browser tab being able to read data from another browser tab.

Red Hat have made available a video more clearly explaining the Speculative Store Bypass (SSB) vulnerability.

How can I protect myself from these vulnerabilities?
At this time microcode updates are being developed by Red Hat, AMD, ARM, Intel, IBM and Microsoft. The affected products from many popular vendors are available from the following links. These vulnerabilities will not be addressed via software fixes but hardware fixes instead.

It is recommended to follow the best practice advice for these vulnerabilities as per the US-CERT namely:

1. Please refer to and monitor the links below for the updates from affected vendors.
2. Test these updates before deploying them widely
3. Ensure the performance impact (anticipated to be between 2 – 8%) is acceptable for the systems you manage/use.

These updates will ship with the mitigations disabled and if appropriate/acceptable for an affected system; the protection (along with its performance impact) can be enabled.

These updates are scheduled to be made available before the end of May. Cloud vendors (e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure etc.) will also update their systems once the performance impact is determined and if deemed acceptable.

Thank you.

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AMD:
https://www.amd.com/en/corporate/security-updates

ARM:
https://developer.arm.com/support/arm-security-updates/speculative-processor-vulnerability

Cisco:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20180521-cpusidechannel

IBM:
https://www.ibm.com/blogs/psirt/potential-impact-processors-power-family/

Intel:
https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/security-center/advisory/intel-sa-00115.html

Microsoft (full impact yet to be determined):
https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-US/security-guidance/advisory/ADV180012

https://portal.msrc.microsoft.com/en-us/security-guidance/advisory/ADV180013

Red Hat:
https://access.redhat.com/security/cve/cve-2018-3639

Oracle:
https://blogs.oracle.com/oraclesecurity/processor-vulnerabilities-cve-2018-3640-and-cve-2018-3639

SUSE:
https://www.suse.com/de-de/support/kb/doc/?id=7022937

Ubuntu:
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SecurityTeam/KnowledgeBase/Variant4

VMware ESXI, Fusion/Fusion Pro, Workstation/Workstation Pro and vCenter Server:
https://www.vmware.com/security/advisories/VMSA-2018-0012.html

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/54951

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/55111
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Details of Spectre Next Generation (NG) Vulnerabilities Emerging

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Update: 23rd May 2018:
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Please refer to the new blog post I have added to document and provide information on these new vulnerabilities.

Thank you.

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Original Post:
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Separate to my previous in-depth discussion of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities; I located this news article announcing the discovery of new vulnerabilities affecting Intel CPUs (and possibly ARM CPUs too). Few details are available; apart from that the vulnerabilities also affect Intel’s SGX (Software Guard Extensions)(defined) instructions and can be exploited within a virtual machine (defined) to gain access to the host (physical system).

It is likely further microcode updates from Microsoft and firmware update from Intel will be made available in the coming weeks. It is unknown if these new vulnerabilities dubbed Spectre Next Generation (NG) will be as serious as the original Meltdown and Spectre (Variants 1 and 2) disclosed in January.

On a related note (and discussed in another post); Microsoft resolved a regression in their Windows 10 Meltdown patch that was found by Windows Internals and security researcher Alex Ionescu. The fix was already included in Windows 10 Version 1803 (the April Update) and was provided to Version 1709 this month.

Thank you.

May 2018 Update Summary

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Update: 5th June 2018:
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As discussed in the post below, the zero day vulnerability (defined) designated as CVE-2018-8174 (defined) patched by Microsoft last month has since been incorporated into the RIG exploit kit (defined). The attackers have used the extra detail provided from anti-malware vendors, GitHub (the popular source code repository) and MetaSploit (defined) to create this exploit.

As detailed below, the vulnerability is considered medium severity; however it also requires actions from the user before it take any malicious action usually opening a malicious file or visiting a malicious website.

Please use caution for any email that you receive with an attachment you weren’t expecting. Thank you.

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Update: 31st May 2018:
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A vulnerability in the JScript (Microsoft’s implementation of JavaScript (defined) has been responsibility disclosed (defined) by Dmitri Kaslov of Telspace Systems, who passed it along to Trend Micro’s Zero-Day Initiative (ZDI). At this time, this vulnerability is un-patched and is thus a zero day vulnerability (defined).

The vulnerability allows a remote attacker to execute malicious instructions of their choice on the victim’s system but only in the context of a sandboxed (defined) environment. In other words, the code cannot itself be used to fully compromise a system. It must be leveraged with another vulnerability to have the potential of fully compromising a system making the vulnerability less serious.

At this time, components within Windows such as wscript.exe and Internet Explorer should not not permitted to run untrusted JScript code. This mitigation (please see the heading near the end of the page named: “How To Tell Explorer To Open .JS Files With Notepad”) may be of assistance with implementing this recommendation.

I will update this post when this vulnerability is patched by Microsoft or when further information becomes available.

Thank you.

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Update: 18th May 2018:
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Other updates made available by Microsoft for the Spectre Variant 2 vulnerability are:

kb4100347

This update was not offered to my Windows laptop running Version 1803. As you know it contains an Intel Core i7 6500U CPU. I downloaded the version 1803 update from the Microsoft Catalog and it installed successfully. My system is showing the full green result when the PowerShell command Get-SpeculationConntrolSetting is run. It results in the final screenshot shown with this article. Further tips on running this useful command are provided in this Microsoft support article, please see the headings “PowerShell Verification using the PowerShell Gallery (Windows Server 2016 or WMF 5.0/5.1)” or “PowerShell Verification using a download from Technet (earlier operating system versions and earlier WMF versions)” depending on your version of Windows.

Microsoft have also issued an update for Windows version 1709 to resolve a vulnerability again introduced by their previous patch. This resolution was provided in update kb4103727. Further details are available in Alex Ionescu’s tweet (a security architect with CrowdStrike and Windows Internals expert). Previous Spectre V2 patches were kb4091666 and kb4078407

This issue was already addressed in version 1803 of Windows.

If any of the above updates apply for your version of Windows, please install them. If the updates are already present or are not required; the installation will not proceed when you manually attempt it.

Thank you.

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Update: 17th May 2018:
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Adobe have since issued further updates to resolve critical vulnerabilities within Adobe Acrobat DC, Adobe Reader DC and Photoshop. Further details of the zero day (defined) vulnerabilities addressed in Adobe Acrobat/Reader are available here and here.

Adobe Acrobat and Reader (priority 1, 47 CVEs)

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 and 2017 (priority 3, 1 CVE).

Further updates are listed at the end of this post. Thank you.

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Update: 10th May 2018:
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Further details have emerged of another zero day (defined) vulnerability affecting Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

CVE-2018-8120 is an elevation of privilege (defined) vulnerability but can only be exploited if the attacker has already compromised the user account of the system allowing the attacker to log in when they choose. Upon logging in the attacker could obtain kernel level access/permissions (defined) by elevating their privileges to carry out any action they choose.

The prioritised list below has been updated to reflect this. Thank you.
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Original Post:
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Apologies for only posting an update summary last month. Other commitments meant I didn’t have the bandwidth to contribute more. I’ll try to make more time this month. Thanks.
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Earlier today Microsoft released their scheduled monthly security updates resolving 67 vulnerabilities. Notably Windows 10 Version 1803 receives it’s first update this month. Windows Server 2016 Version 1803 remains in testing in advance of it’s upcoming release. As always Microsoft have provided further details are provided within their Security Updates Guide.

There are 4 knowledge base articles detailing potential issues (all of which are pending resolutions) you may experience upon installing these updates. They are listed below for your reference:

4103712

4103718

4103723

4103727

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Separately, Adobe released updates for 3 of their products, namely:

Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Application (priority 2 (overall), 3x CVEs)

Adobe Connect (priority 2, 1x CVE)

Adobe Flash Player (priority 2, 1x CVE)

Non-Microsoft browsers should update automatically e.g. Google Chrome should release a browser update in the coming days or will use their component update feature (the update was not available at the time of writing). Like last month; Microsoft issued a security advisory containing details of their updates

As always; 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 (since Secunia PSI was phased out on the 20th of April):
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US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

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.

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For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here:
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Windows VBScript Engine Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (a zero day (defined) vulnerability)

Win32k Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (similar to last month multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))

Microsoft Hyper-V (Update 1 and Update 2)

Microsoft Office (detailed list available here)
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Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

One of the vulnerabilities addressed by Microsoft this month, namely CVE-2081-8897: Windows Kernel Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability arose due to the misinterpretation of documentation from Intel regarding how a CPU (defined) raise a debug (defined) exception to transfer control to debugging software (usually used by a software developer). The specific instructions were the assembly language instructions (defined) MOV to SS and POP to SS.

As usual; 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.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
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Last week Malwarebytes updated their anti-malware product to version 3.5.1. The full list of improvements is available here but it also updated their include 7-Zip to version 18.05. I verified this manually since the above release notes did not make reference to it. Further details of the 7-Zip update are available in my April blog post.

Moreover; Directory Opus updated their product to version 12.8.1. Beta adding new DLLs (defined) for 7-Zip and UnRAR once again to address the vulnerabilities found within the UnRAR DLL also used by 7-Zip.

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Mozilla Firefox:
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This month Mozilla made available security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release):

9th May: Firefox 60.0: Resolves 2x critical CVEs, 6x high, 14 moderate CVEs and  4x low severity CVEs

9th May: Firefox ESR 52.8: Resolves 2x critical, 5x high, 3x moderate CVEs

Further details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the links above. 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 resolve these security issues.

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Google Chrome:
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Google released Google Chrome version 66.0.3359.170 to address 4 number of vulnerabilities and to include a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

One of the four vulnerabilities addressed relates to how Chrome handles browser extensions resolving a privilege escalation issue (defined). Further details are availability here.

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Wireshark 2.4.7 and 2.6.1
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v2.4.7: 6 security advisories

v2.6.1: 9 security advisories

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v2.6.1) or v2.4.7). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

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USB Denial of Service (DoS) Will not Receive a Fix
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In other vulnerability related news; a denial of service issue (defined) privately/responsibly disclosed (defined) by a security researcher Marius Tivadar will not fixed by Microsoft with a security update since the vulnerability requires physical access to the target system or social engineering (defined) and does not result an attacker being able to execute code of their choice on the affected system.

In my opinion; this is justified since if an attacker can obtain physical access to your system it significantly enhances the damage they can do. This statement also forms part of Microsoft’s 10 Immutable Laws of Security.

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Update: 31st May 2018
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VideoLAN VLC:
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Yesterday VideoLAN made available VLC version 3.0.3 for Linux, Windows, macOS, BSD, Android, iOS, UWP and Windows Phone. It’s release notes detail one potential security issue (buffer overread  (defined)) and other 3rd party libraries being updated to address security issues. No specific numbers were provided. A large number of non-security issues were also resolved.

Please update to version 3.0.3 to benefit from these improvements.

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Google Chrome:
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Earlier this month Google made available version  67 delivering 34 security issues. The improvements part of this new version are discussed in this Bleeping Computer article.

Moreover this version includes an early implementation of a new user interface for the tabs, address bar, settings button (sometimes referred to as the “chrome” (no pun intended) of an application). This article provides more details and includes steps to enable the new UI. I have done so and it’s a subtle difference but I already really like it. The Incognito mode is even more noticeable. The UI also seems more responsive (but that may be placebo effect).

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.
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Apple Security Updates:
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In late May Apple made available the following updates. Interestingly while the updates were available; no specific details of the improvements they include (security or otherwise) are yet available.

Initially, further details of the updates made available by Apple are emerging. Sophos have theroized that Apple have made improvements to the iOS Messages app making it more stable and less susceptible to crashing. They are thus recommending that you install the iOS 11.4 update as soon as possible.

They also discuss the addition of a new security feature which blocks access to a mobile device if the passcode has not been entered within the last seven days. This change is expected to become part of 11.4.1 and a stricter form for iOS 12. After this time the Apple Lightning cable will only charge the device and not allow data access. This appears to be part of Apple’s response to law enforcement and forensics firms accessing Apple devices attempting to collect evidence of the device’s owner’s wrongdoings.

Further details have since emerged for these Apple security updates:

Apple iOS v11.4 (resolves 35x CVEs (defined))

Apple tvOS 11.4 (resolves 24x CVEs)

Apple watchOS 4.3.1 (resolves 20x CVEs)

Apple iTunes version 12.7.5 for Windows (resolves 16x CVEs)

Moreover, BleepingComputer have discussed two of the vulnerabilities patched were buffer overflows (defined) both present in the kernels (defined) of iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS.

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Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

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Hitman Pro:
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As recommended on my Tools and Resources page, Hitman Pro (now part of Sophos Security) has been updated to version 3.8.20 (Build 294). This update resolves a vulnerability relating to DLL hijacking (defined)(apologies; for this link you may need to dismiss several adverts before the requested page loads). Any previous version of the tool should update automatically when opened to the most recent version.

Pwn2Own 2018 Results

Earlier this month the annual Pwn2Own white hat (defined) hacking contest took place, shortened from 3 days to 2 days.

This year’s competition was also impacted by a recent regulatory change meaning that Chinese participants were unable to attend. This is unfortunate since previous yeas competitions have been excellent and this had a real impact on the success of this year’s competition; perhaps next years will be better? Further details of the regulatory change are detailed here.

The following products were successfully exploited this year resulting in USD$267k being awarded. Exploits which could not be completed in the allocated time of 30 minutes were also purchased; which is fair in my opinion since they could still be a threat and the researchers more than deserve the credit for the time and effort they invest.

Similar to previous years; kernel (defined) exploits were used each time to exploit the web browsers due to the sandboxing (defined) technology used to security harden them.

As noted in this article (and my previous blog posts) kernels are becoming even more complex and can easily consist of millions of lines of code. My previous advice of static analysis/auditing/fuzzing (defined here and here) still applies. These won’t detect every vulnerability but will significantly reduce them. As before writing more secure code using the development practices discussed in last year’s Pwn2Own post will reduce the vulnerability count even further; both now into the future.

Just like last year Mozilla updated Firefox very quickly; this time in less than a day to version 59.0.1 and 52.7.2 ESR.

I’ll update this post as the vulnerabilities disclosed during the contest are addressed. The full list of products exploited is provided below. Thank you.

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Apple Safari (2 attempts were successful using macOS kernel elevation of privilege (defined) vulnerabilities

Microsoft Edge

Mozilla Firefox

Oracle VirtualBox
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