P0wnographer finds remote code exec bug in McAfee enterprise

This one ticks all the boxes: Runs as root ✔ Claims security ✔ Unpopular product with few updates ✔


McAfee has taken six months to patch 10 critical vulnerabilities in its VirusScan Enterprise Linux client. And these were nasty bugs as when chained they resulted remote code execution as root.

Andrew Fasano, security researcher with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, says attackers can chain the flaws to compromise McAfee Linux clients by spinning up malicious update servers.

"At a first glance, Intel's McAfee VirusScan Enterprise for Linux has all the best characteristics that vulnerability researchers love: it runs as root, it claims to make your machine more secure, it's not particularly popular, and it looks like it hasn't been updated in a long time," Fasano writes.

"When I noticed all these, I decided to take a look."

His efforts now lead him to assert that "A system running Intel's McAfee VirusScan Enterprise for Linux can be compromised by remote attackers due to a number of security vulnerabilities [which] can be chained together to allow remote code execution as root."

Fasano reported the bugs on 23 June through the US computer emergency response team clearing house which passed the vulnerabilities on to McAfee. He says the security company asked for a six-month non-disclosure period, plus a couple of extensions that would take it significantly longer than the standard 90-days patch-or-perish guidance offered by the likes of Google.

McAfee made no subsequent contact after July, fixing the bugs on 9 December, four days after Fasano told the firm he would publish the vulnerabilities today.

The chained bugs showcase the dangers that antivirus platforms often present to the security of enterprises and users by way of its by-design root privileges and large attack surfaces.

Fasano detailed the exploitation process including a proof-of-concept.

The attack starts with twin flaws (CVE-2016-8022, CVE-2016-8023) that allow an authentication token to be brute-forced and used to connect with McAfee Linux clients.

From there attackers use another flaw (CVE-2016-8021) to force targeted McAfee installs to create malicious scripts.

Those scripts are then executed utilising the same vulnerability plus an authenticated remote code execution privelege escalation bug (CVE-2016-8020, CVE-2016-8021)

With those flaws combined the attacker's malicious script is then run as root on the victim machines.

Fasano says exploitation depends on valid login tokens generated when users log into McAfee web interfaces and lasting about an hour.

Other bugs Fasano found include a remote unauthenticated file read and existence test (CVE-2016-8016, CVE-2016-8017); cross-site request forgery tokens (CVE-2016-8018); cross-site scripting (CVE-2016-8019); HTTP response splitting (CVE-2016-8024), and an authenticated SQL injection bug (CVE-2016-8025). ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022