News

Microsoft Investigating Windows Proof-of-Concept Flaw

Microsoft noted last week that its security team is looking into an elevation-of-privilege exploit affecting Windows-based systems.

The company released very little information, except for a brief Nov. 24 notice on its Twitter security response page. The flaw was disclosed after someone posted proof-of-concept code on a "programming education site," according to Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor at Sophos Canada, in a blog post. The code was subsequently removed, he noted.

The flaw enables elevation-of-privilege from a local user account level to the system account level. It also bypasses the user account control (UAC) protection found in Windows Vista and Windows 7, Wisniewski explained. He described it as a Win32k.sys bug.

"The flaw is related to the way in which a certain registry key is interpreted and enables an attacker to impersonate the system account, which has nearly unlimited access to all components of the Windows system," he wrote in the blog.

In addition to Vista and Windows 7, other Windows operating systems (both 32-bit and 64-bit) are subject to the flaw, including Windows XP, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003, according to a post by Prevx blogger Marco Giuliani. He explained that the flaw cannot be exploited via remote code execution.

"It is a local privilege escalation exploit," Giuliani wrote. "This means that the potential malware must be already in the target machine to exploit this flaw." However, he described it as a critical flaw because it enables the local user to gain administrative privileges.

Microsoft hasn't rated the exploit nor said when, or if, it would provide a fix. Both antimalware vendors offered some advice in their blogs to avoid the zero-day flaw. The advice includes altering the registry for standard users or downloading security software.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

Featured

  • Industrial Control System Honeypot Illustrates Bad Security Practices

    Security solutions provider Trend Micro has published results (PDF) from running an industrial control system (ICS) "honeypot."

  • Ransomware: What It Means for Your Database Servers

    Ransomware affects databases in very specific ways. Joey describes the mechanics of a SQL Server ransomware attack, what DBAs can do to protect their systems, and what security measures they should be advocating for.

  • Windows Admin Center vs. Hyper-V Manager: What's Better for Managing VMs?

    Microsoft's preferred interface for Windows Server is Windows Admin Center, but can it really replace Hyper-V Manager for managing virtual machines? Brien compares the two management tools.

  • Microsoft Offers More Help on Windows Server 2008 Upgrades

    Microsoft this week published additional help resources for organizations stuck on Windows Server 2008, which fell out of support on Jan. 14.

comments powered by Disqus

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.