Comodo's 'security' kit installed a lame VNC server on PCs on the sly

Modern antivirus: Easily crackable password, lets malware gain admin privileges

Google's Project Zero has found yet another blunder in Comodo's internet "security" software – a VNC server enabled by default with a predictable password.

Earlier this month, Googler Tavis Ormandy pointed out that Comodo's custom web browser, dubbed Chromodo, was about as unsafe as a lace condom thanks to terrible security settings. Now Ormandy has found Comodo's software included a remote desktop tool that is ideal for hackers.

When installing Comodo Anti-Virus, Comodo Firewall, or Comodo Internet Security on a Windows PC, you'll get a program called GeekBuddy, which Comodo staff can use to carry out remote technical support on people's PCs (in exchange for money).

GeekBuddy allows this by installing a VNC server that has admin-level privileges, is enabled by default, and is open to the local network. At one point the server had no password protection at all – so anyone could connect and commandeer a system. That was fixed by enabling password protection, although Ormandy discovered the passwords were predictable.

If you're running Comodo's software, malware on your PC, miscreants on your network, or perhaps anyone on the internet, could have potentially gained control over your computer.

Any logged-in normal user, or software running on the system, could grab the VNC password from the Windows Registry, and gain higher privileges by connecting to the server. The password can be guessed by those connecting remotely as it's rather short, simple and predictable. Basically, PCs were backdoored by the security suite.

"This is an obvious and ridiculous local privilege escalation, which apparently Comodo believe they have resolved by generating a password instead of leaving it blank," reported Ormandy, an information security engineer at Google.

"That is not the case, as the password is simply the first 8 characters of SHA1(Disk.Caption+Disk.Signature+Disk.SerialNumber+Disk.TotalTracks). I imagine Comodo thought nobody would bother checking how they generated the password, because this clearly doesn't prevent the attack they claim it solved."


Popping open calc.exe using the VNC server ... click to enlarge

Ormandy reported the security design flaw to Comodo on January 19. Today, Thursday, the biz told the Google staffer that the vulnerability was addressed in version 4.25.380415.167 of GeekBuddy, which was released on February 10. We're told 90 per cent of users should have automatically installed the update by now. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022