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Vista Exploit Surfaces on Russian Hacker Site 103

Posted by Zonk
from the exploits-show-up-in-the-funnest-places dept.
Datamation writes "Exploit code for Windows Vista (though at this point only proof-of-concept code) has been published to a Russian hacker site, Eweek reports. Certain strings sent through the 'MessageBox' API apparently cause memory corruption. Though this is obviously cause for concern, at the moment it would seem access to the system would already be required to make use of the exploit. Determina has an analysis of the bug. Just last week, Trend Micro reported that Vista zero-days are being sold at underground hacker sites for $50,000."
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Vista Exploit Surfaces on Russian Hacker Site

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  • by DittoBox (978894) on Friday December 22, 2006 @03:57PM (#17341562) Homepage
    I don't have to...you know...take pictures of squirrels or pigeons to get a hold of this exploit do I?
  • .... begin in 5 - 4 - 3 -2
  • curious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:01PM (#17341622)
    Trend Micro reported that Vista zero-days are being sold at underground hacker sites for $50,000.

    I'm just wondering who would buy these at such a price. What is the real value of an exploit?
    • Re:curious (Score:5, Informative)

      by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@SPDALIAM.yahoo.com minus painter> on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:03PM (#17341672) Journal
      probably a lot more if you can use it to get a lot of zombies and bots for DDOS attacks and SPAM. I'm thinking the SPAM alone should cover the cost if you can get an installed base quickly.
      • "spam" isn't an acronym, and it isn't an initialism. Quit writing it in all-caps, unless you're talking about the trademark food product.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm just wondering who would buy these at such a price.

      Someone with $50,000 to spend as an investment, who expects to make more money out of it.

      What is the real value of an exploit?

      $50,000.
    • And when did these "hackers" become such sellouts? Way to ruin an art form...
      • Re:curious (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:21PM (#17341906)
        And when did these "hackers" become such sellouts? Way to ruin an art form...

        The only thing they ruin is the term "hacker". But that's okay, this word has been deformed, mis- and overused for so long to mean "pirate" and "cracker" by stupid media people that it just doesn't matter anymore.

        In reality, these guys aren't even worthy of the term "crackers" (which itself isn't worth much in the first place): they're just mafia, conmen, blackmail artists, forgers, thieves, robbers... whatever you choose to call it. They just happen to use a computer instead of a tommy gun, but the result is the same.
        • Bah, why is it a problem if some russians try to get rich from the bugfest created in Redmont, only Ballmer has the right to stuff his pockets? I bet the russians worked harder!
        • Re:curious (Score:4, Funny)

          by Dirtside (91468) on Friday December 22, 2006 @07:48PM (#17344230) Journal
          They just happen to use a computer instead of a tommy gun, but the result is the same.

          You'll be sleep()ing with the fishes?

          Somehow, I don't think the idea of the "St. Valentine's Day TCP stack exploit" has quite the same impact. (Perhaps the "St. Valentine's Day Blue Screen of Death"?)

          All things considered, I'd rather have my computer violated by the Mafia than my body.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      I'm just wondering who would buy these at such a price. What is the real value of an exploit?

      People who want to make Vista zombie bots.

      And who would want to do that?

      Spammers
    • Check your inbox, you've probably got some emails from people who would spend $50,000 on an exploit.
      • by peragrin (659227)
        no but Iam getting 10-20 emails daily for Windows Vista ultimate downloads and cracks.

    • Trend Micro reported that Vista zero-days are being sold at underground hacker sites for $50,000.

      I'm just wondering who would buy these at such a price. What is the real value of an exploit?

      The real value is that Trend Micro gets to post a dubious piece of information showing how deadly and valuable these exploits are. Wow, just look at how insecure Vista is that these harmful exploits are worth so much money! You'd better buy our antivirus software NOW to keep yourself protected.

      Antivirus companies are certainly not broadcasting this kind of information purely for the public benefit. It's a FUD campaign. Much like certain governments like to say "terrorist, terrorist, terrorist!" these c

  • Obviously Microsoft is missing these holes in Vista in house.

    Maybe the biggest customer for these zero-day exploits should be.. Microsoft?

    $50,000 isn't that much compared to the other option IMHO.

    Just a thought.

    TLF
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:12PM (#17341788)
      Obviously Microsoft is missing these holes in Vista in house.
      Maybe the biggest customer for these zero-day exploits should be.. Microsoft?
      $50,000 isn't that much compared to the other option IMHO.
      Just a thought.


      It's a very valid thought, it's just the form that's bad: what you suggest is Microsoft pays black hats under the table to fix find flaws in their products for them. Quite a PR disaster, surely you'll agree. On the other hand, if they were smart, they would hire talented hackers *upstream*, i.e. during the development process, and offer them the same insane amounts of money on a per-exploit-found basis (at "black market rate" if you will), only these hackers would be working for MS perfectly legally: they would get the same money, trouble-free, and Microsoft could boast they subject their products to the most stringent tests before release.

      Heck, MS could even offer these russians H1Bs/green cards, housing in the US, car and whatnot, that would be small change compared to how Microsoft stands to make out like a bandit on the semi-forced sale of their new OS...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Agreed. It would be generally very poor form for a company to do such a thing.

        And obviously the people who sell these exploits want to get more than one sale out of each one. Selling them to Microsoft means, hopefully, the end of the exploit and no more sales. So if MS really did buy these exploits, they'd have to do it without letting the hackers find out it was them buying the exploits. Because the hackers would probably never want to sell them to MS.

        I'm sure this fits into some science fiction plot s
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          Selling them to Microsoft means, hopefully, the end of the exploit and no more sales.

          In an ideal world, with a software maker worth the name, yes. But with Microsoft, it seems there's never an end to bugfixing. Look at XP: it was touted as the most secure Windows ever (which isn't saying much really) when it was released, and yet look, in 2007, there are still exploits cropping up almost every day even with all the patches.
        • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:16PM (#17342598)
          I'm sure this fits into some science fiction plot somewhere. And the truth as it is said is often stranger than fiction.

          Yes it is. Would you believe that the reason for all the security holes is for Microsoft. They're the ones who create the holes so that later they can take crontrol of the bot nets and send out spam. On occasion they find a guy who's trying to go it alone and starts intruding on their turf. They send the police at that guy to take everyone's attention at what their other hand is doing. They're pretty sinister in that regard.
          Holy crap, I could almost believe that. Anybody have any extra tin foil they can spare?
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)
        I have a better interpretation (and possibly an idea for MS to hunt these guys down):

        It's extortion. Someone identified a security flaw that Microsoft missed, and wants money for it. I'd wager their army of lawyers could spin it in such a way as to get these black hats locked up for a good long time for racketeering charges or something similar.

        How MS can use this: broker deals with these guys under the table. Get any relevant law enforcement involved to ensure it's legality, and nail the guys when the tran
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ilmarin77 (964467)
        MS could even offer these russians H1Bs/green cards
        And a place in jail for violating DMCA.

      • Much more cost effective to continue paying loyal employees to do this stuff & continue throwing everyone else in front of the bus.
        An operating system simply can not be 100% secure & remain as portable as Windows is, paying outragous amounts of money for information in this situation would be foolish, hence the phrase A fool and his money are soon parted.
      • MS pays $50,000-a-hack the Spamers pay $60,000-a-hack. In any case the spammers will cough up more for the code.
      • It's a very valid thought, it's just the form that's bad: what you suggest is Microsoft pays black hats under the table to fix find flaws in their products for them. Quite a PR disaster, surely you'll agree.

        It is not necessarily bad for Microsoft to pay these guys a bounty behind the scenes to find flaws in their products for them. Think of it this way, the CIA pays criminals and other unsavory people to be informants and agents acting in the interests of the government at the behest of their CIA case o
      • Actually, I wouldn't see Microsoft intorducing some sort of "Buy a bug/exploit" scheme as being a PR disater at all, quite the opposite. They'd have to be fairly particular about what defines "a bug/exploit" though, or at least define a reasonable scale.

        Heck, they'd probably end up with the most secure OS on the planet if the offer $10-20k US for a bug/exploit.

        Someone should suggest the idea to them ;o)
      • by jorghis (1000092)
        Well they already do exactly that. Microsoft has a huge QA department and its a pretty safe bet that the SDETs working in it make a good bit more than 50k a year. They recruit internationally and get people those visas you were talking about since software engineers who dont suck are in short supply these days.

        Unless a hacker believes that he can find several big time exploits every year before anyone else does (quite a stretch imho) then it seems like it would be in his financial best interest to work f
      • by kjart (941720)

        On the other hand, if they were smart, they would hire talented hackers *upstream*, i.e. during the development process, and offer them the same insane amounts of money on a per-exploit-found basis (at "black market rate" if you will), only these hackers would be working for MS perfectly legally: they would get the same money, trouble-free, and Microsoft could boast they subject their products to the most stringent tests before release.

        This has come up before in other articles, but I'll rehash the old arg

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lachesis-jp (886896)
      That's possibly what the guys selling the exploits are hoping for: that Microsoft buys it from them and as you say $50,000 isn't much for Microsoft. Actually, maybe Microsoft should actually start a program to reward people that submit vulnerabilities in relation to security risk caused by it. This might actually help make Vista secure quickly if they pay well. And if they have any confidence in the fact that Vista is a relatively secure OS, they shouldn't have to worry that it is going to cost them too muc
    • by kjart (941720)

      From the article:

      The vulnerable code is present in Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista.

      Another case of Microsoft getting burned by legacy code? You have to wonder how many problems would be solved if they actually started fresh, rather than propping up the compatibility bridge continuously. Probably a lot, but I doubt they want to damage their market share to the extent that such a move would likely make.

    • by triso (67491)

      Obviously Microsoft is missing these holes in Vista in house.
      Maybe the biggest customer for these zero-day exploits should be.. Microsoft?
      $50,000 isn't that much compared to the other option IMHO.
      Just a thought.
       
      If their source code was open, people would locate and possibly fix these exploits for free.
  • Geez, they don't even need to publish exploit details. I can figure it out from the technical details. Yet again, the need for the CLR to support this moronic language creates a very obvious security flaw. Once again, data being marshalled across process boundaries assumes the VB programmer knows what he's talking about, and doesn't safely pass the message string, instead allowing the marshaller to interpret it as code. Great. I'm sure we'll see a whole bunch of related exploits that target the .NETCOM mars
    • by cnettel (836611) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:20PM (#17341902)
      This has nothing to do with Visual Basic. It's the plain and simple Win32 API. The demo just happens to be written in VB.NET using .NET Interop.
    • by crunch_ca (972937)
      I just read TFA. Let me get this straight. The exploit is in MessageBox()?

      Awesome.

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:16PM (#17342602)
        I just read TFA. Let me get this straight. The exploit is in MessageBox()?
        Awesome.


        All I can say is... OUCH.

        MessageBox() is a fairly commonly used API (it's used to display a message box, with optional icon (none, alert, caution, etc.), and buttons (yes/no, yes/no/cancel, ok/cancel, ok, etc). It's the most trivial way to do a quick debug, or pop up an error message. It's probably one of the most commonly used functions, as well.

        Wonder what Microsoft did to break MessageBox(). Considering how often it's used...
        • by TubeSteak (669689)
          Wonder what Microsoft did to break MessageBox(). Considering how often it's used...
          Whatever they did, they did it a long time ago, since TFA says Win2k is vulnerable.

          Unless this exploit is perpetuated by a patch, MS's brand spanking new OS is getting pwnd by a bug coded >7 years ago. I assume it's at least 7 years old, because I doubt anyone is testing against NT4 these days, so I don't know if it's a leftover from the mid-90's.
        • I haven't read the details of this exploit, but doesn't the javascript alert() function usually call MessageBox() on Windows?

          If it's just the text inside the message box that they need to screw with, this could be pretty easily exploited by any random website...
    • by Daltorak (122403) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:44PM (#17342200)

      Yet again, the need for the CLR to support this moronic language creates a very obvious security flaw.
      Huh? Where's the logic in that? Blaming VB.NET for a security vulnerability in a Win32 API is like blaming Perl for a security vulnerability in the Linux kernel API. This has absolutely nothing to do with the CLR, Visual Basic (.NET or 6), or any other specific language... the vulnerability exists on the lowest level of the Win32 API (CSRSS, amongst other things, is Win32's interface to the Windows kernel). Any language that can call into Win32 can trigger this vulnerability... including Perl.
      • by Foolhardy (664051)
        For one thing, MessageBox() is implemented entirely in user32.dll, a client library which runs directly in the client process calling the function. CSRSS and win32k only implement lower level primitives like windows and display contexts (Here [bialystok.pl]'s a list of both the service tables; scroll down to win32k.sys to see all of it's functions). MessageBox() uses those to create a new window with the specified buttons and text on the fly with those primitives; the vulnerability is inside that code. There's no reason t
        • by Foolhardy (664051)
          Ok, upon actually reading the articles, my first paragraph is off: although the display part of MessageBox() is implemented entirely in the client side library, it may ask CSRSS to display the box instead. It's CSR that's mishandling that request in some weird circumstances. This isn't the only [tesco.net] long standing bug of its kind in CSR. I sorta get the impression that no one at Microsoft really wants to touch the old CSR code (and may not even be competent to). The thing about "\??\" sounds like some debugging o
  • by Utopia (149375) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:13PM (#17341804)
    How does one go about exploiting a double free vulnerability?
    The article just mentions that Windows has a double free vulnerability but does not post an exploit (and neither does the russian site which originally reported this issue).

    .
    • by cnettel (836611) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:28PM (#17341998)
      It really depends on the heap (the specific data structures keeping track of the blocks) in use, but it can result in other blocks also beeing freed incorrectly. If you are able to replace the first block at the address with another, during the relevant timespan, you can get THAT one freed, which then can cause some other part of the kernel, relying on that new data, to crash. As the buffers involved here are all allocated in-kernel, I would think you need to do some tricky timing-dependent work to get a real exploit going. If you don't have debugging privileges, you won't know the address used yourself, and you'll need to trick some other API to choose to allocate that very same memory, unless, of course, the data structures are severly damaged by just the double-free event, without any new allocation between the two.
  • Heck of a discount after what we saw last week, huh?
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:46PM (#17342250)
    Certain strings sent through the 'MessageBox' API apparently cause memory corruption.

    A partial list of those strings appears to be: Linux, Open-Source, GNU, Stallman, and (oddly) chair.

  • by raddan (519638) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:49PM (#17342280)
    Which is ironic, because they actually have a page [microsoft.com] on handling strings safely. So are they lazy, stupid, or both? Lemme guess-- they couldn't use their own API because someone wrote the MessageBox API in assembly...?
    • MessageBox API in assembly

      Yep someone is lazy, or it is a side effect in the API.

      BTW Only the HAL of any NT based system is written in assembly, everything above that must be portable C. (This is one reason it was sad that WinNT 4.0 was faster than Win9x, as the Win9x team could use all the assembly they wanted.)

      Old API, not properly reviewed. BTW, did anyone notice that the exploit requires 'prior' admin authorization? It can only elevate after getting the permission to do so at a prior point, so it is kin
  • So a user could exploit this? Jeez, panic! Hold on.... As a matter of habit, I disabled any build-in accounts, so that leaves only me... but can I trust myself?
  • More details on this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wumpus188 (657540) on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:11PM (#17342548)
    ... from another russian forum [bugtraq.ru] (roughly translated from russian...)

    Function GetHardErrorText
    Comment:
    * This function figures out the message box title, text and flags.
    * We want to do this up front so we can log this error when the hard error is
    * raised. Previously we used to log it after the user had dismissed the message
    * box -- but that was not when the error occurred (DCR Bug 107590)

    This function finds and extracts strings like "{EXCEPTION}" from MessageBox's text and if found, writes them in the system log.

    } else if ((asLocal.Length > 4) && !_strnicmp(asLocal.Buffer, "\\??\\", 4)) {
    strcpy( asLocal.Buffer, asLocal.Buffer+4 );
    Local.Length -= 4;
    Say, nice use of strcpy...
  • Why now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lxy (80823) on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:30PM (#17342720) Journal
    I think it's funny that the black hats are releasing exploits for Vista so soon. The product isn't widely available yet, so by the time Vista ships to consumers mosty of these 0-days will be patched.

    A smart black hat would lay low until SP1 is released, and wait for the real corporate deployment to begin.
    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hackstraw (262471) * on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:53PM (#17342968)
      A smart black hat would lay low until SP1 is released, and wait for the real corporate deployment to begin.

      A smart black hat has like a job and a life.

      The only thing I can say that these script kiddies and whatnot are good for is that they are easily detectable and they alert security people of vulnerabilities so that it makes it difficult for people that are really interested in doing real damage or obtaining data that they shouldn't have.

      Its really ironic how valuable these kids are. Without them, real compromises would be more common and much more painful.

    • I would guess that these aren't the real exploits and we have some decent ones to look forward to around SP1
    • Waiting means risking somebody else finds the same bug and gets all credit (pun intended).
  • Doesn't count! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Friday December 22, 2006 @05:43PM (#17342840) Journal
    Of course, this doesn't don't count, as has been evidenced by the outcry against similar proof-of-concept security holes in OS X.

    I'm pretty sure the Slashdot community wouldn't be so two-faced as to claim something is an exploit on Vista which isn't 'counted' as an exploit on OS X, right?

    Right?
    • Beautifully stated!
    • Of course, this doesn't don't count, as has been evidenced by the outcry against similar proof-of-concept security holes in OS X.

      I'm pretty sure the Slashdot community wouldn't be so two-faced as to claim something is an exploit on Vista which isn't 'counted' as an exploit on OS X, right?

      Right?

      I fail to follow your logic. How does some imaginary Slashdot posters opinion on an OS X exploit have any baring on the contents of the article. We have yet to see a large scale virus or phishing exploit on
      • by rs232 (849320)
        gutless prick ..

        was Re:yet more excuse~1 ..
        • by Macthorpe (960048)
          I don't know who you were calling a 'gutless prick' (seems to be yourself?), but the opinion I quoted was put forward by pretty much every respondant on this article [slashdot.org].

          Hardly imaginary.
  • I bet the string that causes memory corruptions is "Hello world!" hehehehe.
  • I'm wondering what sort of checking IE does on alert() and prompt() calls, and on and tags. If you can force an error would it be possible to run arbitrary code this way?
  • by mottie (807927)
    This affects a total of what? 15 people? I don't see why anyone would pay cold hard cash for Vista exploits when 99% of the internet still runs XP or previous..
    • by sqlrob (173498)
      RTFA.

      Win 2k and later, including Vista
    • "The PoC reportedly allows for local elevation of privilege on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP SP1, Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista operating systems,"

      Deliberatly misquoting the report is a sure sign of desperation ..

      was Re:so...
  • Wow, so an exploit that requires root access?
    Yeah, this tend to be how trojans and viruses work. In basically any OS.

    Wake me up when there's a remote exploit requiring no elevation of privileges. :-p
    • by Cyberax (705495)
      No, it doesn't require root access. And it allows to elevate your privileges to 'System'.
  • I don't buy it. Zero-day exploit value goes up with installed base. What is the installed base of Vista? If anything, the release of a zero-day exploit at this point would be foolish, it would not benefit the buyer, so it wouldn't be worth spending much on.

    If anything, my guess is that any zero-day exploits are being held in various back pockets, in escrow so to speak, to be sold in early spring when the OEMs have shipped lots of Vista-preloaded boxes.

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