At the DEF CON 27 security conference today in Las Vegas, security researchers from Eclypsium gave a talk about common design flaws they found in more than 40 kernel drivers from 20 different hardware vendors.
The common design flaws is that low-privileged applications can use legitimate driver functions to execute malicious actions in the most sensitive areas of the Windows operating system, such as the Windows kernel.
“There are a number of hardware resources that are normally only accessible by privileged software such as the Windows kernel and need to be protected from malicious read/write from userspace applications,” Mickey Shkatov, Principal Researcher at Eclypsium told ZDNet in an email earlier this week.
“The design flaw surfaces when signed drivers provide functionality which can be misused by userspace applications to perform arbitrary read/write of these sensitive resources without any restriction or checks from Microsoft,” he added.
Shkatov blames the issues he discovered on bad coding practices, which don’t take security into account.
“This is a common software design anti-pattern where, rather than making the driver only perform specific tasks, it’s written in a flexible way to just perform arbitrary actions on behalf of userspace,” he told ZDNet.
“It’s easier to develop software by structuring drivers and applications this way, but it opens the system up for exploitation.”
Shkatov said his company has notified each of the hardware vendors that were shipping drivers that allow userspace apps to run kernel code. Vendors who issued updates are listed below.
● American Megatrends International (AMI)
● ASUSTeK Computer
● ATI Technologies (AMD)
● Micro-Star International (MSI)
● Phoenix Technologies
● Realtek Semiconductor
“Some vendors, like Intel and Huawei, have already issued updates. Some which are IBVs [independent BIOS vendors] like Phoenix and Insyde are releasing their updates to their customer OEMs,” Shkatov told ZDNet.
The Eclypsium researcher said he did not name all the impacted vendors, though, as some “needed extra time due to special circumstances” and future fixes and advisories will be released in the future.
The Eclypsium researcher said he plans to publish the list of affected drivers and their hashes on GitHub, after the talk so users and administrators can block the affected drivers.
[The article will be updated with the link, when available.]
In addition, Shaktov said Microsoft will be using its HVCI (Hypervisor-enforced Code Integrity) capability to blacklist drivers that are reported to them.
However, Shaktov said that the HVCI feature is only supported on 7th gen Intel CPUs and onwards. Manual intervention will be needed on older systems, and even on newer Intel CPUs where HVCI can’t be enabled.
“In order to exploit vulnerable drivers, an attacker would need to have already compromised the computer,” Microsoft said in a statement. “To help mitigate this class of issues, Microsoft recommends that customers use Windows Defender Application Control to block known vulnerable software and drivers. Customers can further protect themselves by turning on memory integrity for capable devices in Windows Security.Microsoft works diligently with industry partners to address to privately disclose vulnerabilities and work together to help protect customers.”
More details will be available on the Eclypsium blog later today.
More vulnerability reports:
The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security
This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.
These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.
Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.
If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.
Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise
This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.
Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.
In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.
CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions
Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.
Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.
“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”
As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.
Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.
“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.
So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:
“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”
Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.
“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”
Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast
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