Last Updated: 2010-07-20 20:06:41 UTC
by Lenny Zeltser (Version: 2)
We decided to raise the Infocon level to Yellow to increase awareness of the recent LNK vulnerability and to help preempt a major issue resulting from its exploitation. Although we have not observed the vulnerability exploited beyond the original targeted attacks, we believe wide-scale exploitation is only a matter of time. The proof-of-concept exploit is publicly available, and the issue is not easy to fix until Microsoft issues a patch. Furthermore, anti-virus tools' ability to detect generic versions of the exploit have not been very effective so far.
Although the original attack used the LNK vulnerability to infect systems from a USB key, the exploit can also launch malicious programs over SMB file shares. In one scenario, attackers that have access to some systems in the enterprise can use the vulnerability to infect other internal systems.
We discussed the LNK vulnerability in a diary a few days ago. That note pointed to Microsoft's advisory that described the bug "Windows Shell Could Allow Remote Code Execution," which affects most versions of Windows operating systems. Microsoft's workarounds for the issue include:
- Disable the displaying of icons for shortcuts. This involves deleting a value from the registry, and is not the easiest thing to do in some enterprise settings. Group Policy-friendly options include the use of Registry Client-Side Extensions, the regini.exe utility and the creation of a custom .adm file: see Distributing Registry Changes for details.
- Disable the WebClient service. This will break WebDAV and any services that depend on it.
Another approach to mitigate the possible LNK attack involves the use of Didier Stevens' tool Ariad. Note that the tool is beta-software operating in the OS kernel, so it's probably not a good match for enterprise-wide roll-out.
Additional recommendations for making the environment resilient to an attack that exploits the LNK vulnerability include:
- Disable auto-run of USB key contents. This would address one of the exploit vectors. For instructions, see Microsoft KB967715.
- Lock down SMB shares in the enterprise, limiting who has the ability to write to the shares.
Sadly, enterprises that are likely to ever disable auto-run and lock down SMB file shares, probably have done this already back when the Conficker worm began spreading. Another challenge is that Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 2 are vulnerable, yet Microsoft no longer provides security patches for these OS. As the result, we believe most environments will be exposed until Microsoft releases a patch. We're raising the Infocon level in the hope that increased vigilance will increase enterprises' ability to detect and respond the attacks that may use the LNK vulnerability.
Update: Several readers recommended focusing on preventing unauthorized code from running by using approaches such as application whitelisting. For instance, Richard and Erno mentioned AppLocker, which is an enterprise software control feature built into Windows 7. Erno wrote, "My solution is standard user accounts and Software Restriction Policy or AppLocker in Group Policy. You can block execution of any files on removable drives or network drives, or actually pretty much anywhere except system folders. In my networks I only allow execution from Windows and Program Files. Remember to apply the software restriction policy for all executable files, including libraries (dlls)." By the way, this is the kind of approach Jason Fossen and I explore in the new course we are about to debut, called Combating Malware in the Enterprise.
Do you have recommendations for addressing the LNK issue? Let us know.
Last Updated: 2010-07-19 20:40:28 UTC
by Lenny Zeltser (Version: 1)
We observed an increase on UDP connections that use UDP port 5060. This port is typically used for VoIP connections using the SIP protocol. The activity is indicative of attempts to locate weakly-configured IP PBX system, probably to brute-force SIP passwords. Once the attacker has access to the account, they may use it to make or resell unauthorized calls. The attacker may also use the access to conduct a voice phishing (vishing) campaign.
We observed a similar up-tick a few months ago. At the time, the activity was attributed to SIP brute-forcing that probably originated from systems running in Amazon's EC2 cloud.
As described on the Digium blog, publicly-accessible SIP systems are seeing large numbers of brute-force attacks. Systems with weak SIP credentials will be compromised, similarly to how email accounts can be compromised by guessing the credentials "The significant difference is that when someone takes over a SIP platform to make outbound calls, there is usually a direct monetary cost, which gets people’s attention very quickly."
A few security recommendations for those using the popular Asterisk IP PBX tool:
Thanks to Adam Fathauer and Thomas B. Rücker for sharing the details of some of the malicious acrivities with us! Also, thanks to ISC handler Donals Smith for his insights on this topic.