Symantec says Microsoft Access ActiveX attacks to increase

Symantec says Microsoft Access ActiveX attacks to increase

Summary: Symantec has reported that the Neosploit toolkit has been updated to include attack vectors for the recent Microsoft Access ActiveX vulnerability.  Neosploit is a toolkit for sale on the market (price estimates fall between $1500-$3000) that seeks to automate and extend the capability of browser exploits.

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Symantec has reported that the Neosploit toolkit has been updated to include attack vectors for the recent Microsoft Access ActiveX vulnerability.  Neosploit is a toolkit for sale on the market (price estimates fall between $1500-$3000) that seeks to automate and extend the capability of browser exploits.

Symantec believes that the addition of exploit code for the Microsoft Access ActiveX vulnerability will lead to an increase in attacks.  Jeremy Kirk from IDG News Service has reported the following:

The Neosploit toolkit is one of several on the Internet that can be used by less-technical hackers to compromise machines. Symantec said it has detected on its network of Internet sensors that Neosploit can take advantage of a vulnerability revealed early last week in Microsoft's Access database program.

"Further analysis of these honeypot compromises has revealed that the exploit has been added to a variant of the Neosploit exploit kit, it will very likely reach a larger number of victims," according to an entry on the company's ThreatCon advisory board.

Microsoft hasn't patched the bug yet, and the company just issued its patches for the month on July 8. The vulnerability is within the Snapshot Viewer ActiveX control, which launches a viewer for Microsoft Access reports that doesn't require running the Access software itself.

The vulnerability poses a special danger since the ActiveX control is digitally signed by Microsoft, which means that people who have Internet Explorer configured to trust ActiveX controls with that designation would run it automatically if encountered on a Web page.

Jeremy Kirk from IDG News Service continues:

Some of the Web pages that have already been hacked with automated SQL injection attacks earlier this year are also hosting the Microsoft Acess attack, according to Symantec's Sean Hittel.

"As is the case with most of these ActiveX attacks, they are being served by traditional Web sites that have themselves fallen victim to automated SQL injection attacks," Hittel wrote on a Symantec forum. "In the past, we have seen government, commercial, and hobby sites fall victim to these SQL injection attacks and subsequently begin serving exploits to each of their visitors."

The problematic viewer accompanies all supported versions of Microsoft Office Access except Microsoft Access 2007...

Hopefully Microsoft will be able to crank a patch out for this one soon.  I also covered this in a story last week, responding to an advisory from Microsoft that they expected targeted attacks.  I'd suggest, and Microsoft does as well, setting the "kill bit" for this ActiveX control so that Internet Explorer will not instantiate this object.  You can do this by doing the following:

Paste the following text in a text editor such as Notepad. Then, save the file by using the .reg file name extension.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{F0E42D50-368C-11D0-AD81-00A0C90DC8D9}] "Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000400

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{F0E42D60-368C-11D0-AD81-00A0C90DC8D9}] "Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000400

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\ActiveX Compatibility\{F2175210-368C-11D0-AD81-00A0C90DC8D9}] "Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000400

You can then install this on your own machine by double-clicking the saved file, or you can push it out across domains by using Group Policy.  Microsoft has also suggested the following potential work around options:

Configure Internet Explorer to prompt before running Active Scripting or to disable Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zone

You can help protect against exploitation of this vulnerability by changing your settings to prompt before running Active Scripting or to disable Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zone. To do this, follow these steps:

1. In Internet Explorer, click Internet Options on the Tools menu. 2. Click the Security tab. 3. Click Internet, and then click Custom Level. 4. Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK. 5. Click Local intranet, and then click Custom Level. 6. Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK. 7. Click OK two times to return to Internet Explorer.

Note Disabling Active Scripting in the Internet and Local intranet security zones may cause some Web sites to work incorrectly. If you have difficulty using a Web site after you change this setting, and you are sure the site is safe to use, you can add that site to your list of trusted sites. This will allow the site to work correctly.

Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone

After you set Internet Explorer to require a prompt before it runs ActiveX controls and Active Scripting in the Internet zone and in the Local intranet zone, you can add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone. This will allow you to continue to use trusted Web sites exactly as you do today, while helping to protect you from this attack on untrusted sites. We recommend that you add only sites that you trust to the Trusted sites zone.

To do this, follow these steps:

1. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, click Internet Options, and then click the Security tab. 2. In the Select a Web content zone to specify its current security settings box, click Trusted Sites, and then click Sites. 3. If you want to add sites that do not require an encrypted channel, click to clear the Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone check box. 4. In the Add this Web site to the zone box, type the URL of a site that you trust, and then click Add. 5. Repeat these steps for each site that you want to add to the zone. 6. Click OK two times to accept the changes and return to Internet Explorer.

Note Add any sites that you trust not to take malicious action on your system. Two in particular that you may want to add are *.windowsupdate.microsoft.com and *.update.microsoft.com. These are the sites that will host the update, and it requires an ActiveX Control to install the update.

Impact of Workaround: There are side effects to prompting before running Active Scripting. Many Web sites that are on the Internet or on an intranet use Active Scripting to provide additional functionality. For example, an online e-commerce site or banking site may use Active Scripting to provide menus, ordering forms, or even account statements. Prompting before running Active Scripting is a global setting that affects all Internet and intranet sites. You will be prompted frequently when you enable this workaround. For each prompt, if you feel you trust the site that you are visiting, click Yes to run Active Scripting. If you do not want to be prompted for all these sites, use the steps outlined in "Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone”.

Set Internet and Local intranet security zone settings to “High” to prompt before running ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting in these zones

You can help protect against exploitation of this vulnerability by changing your settings for the Internet security zone to prompt before running ActiveX controls and Active Scripting. You can do this by setting your browser security to High.

To raise the browsing security level in Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

1. On the Internet Explorer Tools menu, click Internet Options. 2. In the Internet Options dialog box, click the Security tab, and then click the Internet icon. 3. Under Security level for this zone, move the slider to High. This sets the security level for all Web sites you visit to High.

Note If no slider is visible, click Default Level, and then move the slider to High.

Note Setting the level to High may cause some Web sites to work incorrectly. If you have difficulty using a Web site after you change this setting, and you are sure the site is safe to use, you can add that site to your list of trusted sites. This will allow the site to work correctly even with the security setting set to High. Impact of Workaround: There are side effects to prompting before running ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting. Many Web sites that are on the Internet or on an intranet use ActiveX or Active Scripting to provide additional functionality. For example, an online e-commerce site or banking site may use ActiveX Controls to provide menus, ordering forms, or even account statements. Prompting before running ActiveX Controls or Active Scripting is a global setting that affects all Internet and intranet sites. You will be prompted frequently when you enable this workaround. For each prompt, if you feel you trust the site that you are visiting, click Yes to run ActiveX Controls or Active Scripting. If you do not want to be prompted for all these sites, use the steps outlined in "Add sites that you trust to the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone”.

-Nate

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Security, Software Development

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9 comments
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  • Vista is not vulnerable

    Vista is not vulnerable
    qmlscycrajg
    • How about some references to back...

      that statement.
      bjbrock
      • There is some justification for the statement

        IE7 with protected mode turned on (the default) runs with very few privileges, even fewer than the current user. The Microsoft advisory states:
        [i]An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the local user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less affected than users who operate with administrative user rights.[/i]

        This suggests that the exploit runs in the same security context as the hosting process which, in this case, would be IE which, in Vista, severely restricts what the exploit can do.

        Is it proof? No. Will it convince those who hate MS? No. Is it based on sound reasoning? Yes.
        NonZealot
  • RE: Symantec says Microsoft Access ActiveX attacks to increase

    Just a lame attempt by Symantec to muster up some business.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Maybe

      But if it is in the kit, it's a reasonable statement.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
  • A better solution

    Just use Firefox.
    jorjitop
    • Yeah, except

      Some companies use IE <b>because</b> of ActiveX. It's in so many third-party products, I don't see it going away anytime soon.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
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