If at first you don't succeed; call it version 1.0
Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I love CORE Impact’s advisories. Most of them contain a long timeline which most of the time I find very amusing.
Usually, whenever I post an advisory the timeline is short, as most of the vulnerabilities are fixed in a reasonable time span.

Today is different. Today, Microsoft have released a patch for the “DLL-load Hijacking” vulnerability that I reported them 2.5 years ago.
I had a long discussion with Microsoft about this vulnerability, and we both had several twists as time went by.

I hope you will enjoy reading the following timeline, which I’ve tried to make it “a la CORE Impact” as possible.



29/Oct/2006 – Notified Microsoft about the “DLL-load Hijacking” vulnerability.

29/Oct/2006 – Microsoft acknowledged notification.

30/Oct/2006 - Provided Microsoft with all the vulnerability details and different ways to exploit it.

30/Oct/2006 – Microsoft stated that “If an attacker has the ability to modify/replace system files on a users system then it is very likely that the system is already compromised in many other ways.”

30/Oct/2006 – I sent some clarifications, stating that the attacker has to have the ability only to CREATE specific DLL files on specific directories, not necessarily on SYSTEM directories. For example, on the Desktop or directories in the user’s PATH.

30/Oct/2006 – Microsoft stated that they will send the information to the IE team for further investigation.

31/Oct/2006 – Microsoft IE product team stated that "If the attacker can put a dll on the box in a location that is in the user's PATH variable, then they already own the box". Microsoft flagged this as a “bad behavior” which they have logged in their “bugs database“, and will fix in next version of the OS.

31/Oct/2006 – I sent Microsoft a notification that I’m going to publicly disclose this vulnerability.

01/Nov/2006 – Publicly disclosed first details of the vulnerability. I didn’t have much time to go with full details, because I had to prepare for a Honeymoon trip to Thailand with my beautiful wife.

10/Dec/2006 – Got back from a great Honeymoon, to find out that some guys were bitching about this vulnerability as a hype, a hoax or just "old news".

14/Dec/2006 – As there was still no change in mind at Microsoft, I've publicly disclosed full technical details of this vulnerability, with a Proof-of-Concept code published on Milw0rm.

21/Apr/2008 – Windows XP SP3 released. Microsoft broke their first promise (in this timeline). Still no fix.

14/May/2008 - Nitesh Dhanjani released details about a vulnerability in Safari which allows automated download of files to the user’s Desktop, without any user interaction. He named it “Safari Carpet Bombing”.

20/May/2008 – Shared details with Ryan Naraine on how to combine the “Safari Carpet Bombing” with “DLL-load Hijacking” vulnerability. I showed him a fully automated remote code execution proof-of-concept. Ryan asked me to hold of disclosure of the vulnerability.

22/May/2008 – Ryan contacted Microsoft regarding the combined vulnerabilities, and provided them with my proof-of-concept.

24/May/2008 – Microsoft contacted me and added Apple to the discussions about the vulnerability. Microsoft requested that I won’t publish the technical details until they fix the vulnerability.

25/May/2008 – I’ve denied Microsoft’s request and asked them why this issue was not fixed in Windows XP SP3.

27/May/2008 – Microsoft stated that it was not fixed in XP SP3 because of an application compatibility issue, and it will take them time to fix this. They also tried to convince me to keep the technical details until they release a patch, by promising to credit me in their advisory and bulletin.

31/May/2008 – Microsoft issued an advisory, calling the combined vulnerabilities a “blended threat”, and suggesting Apple Safari users to stop using this Safari. This was all done without crediting me for working with them on this issue.

31/May/2008 – Microsoft changed their mind and stated that they will not credit me in their bulletin because I publicly disclosed information about the vulnerability in November 2006. By that Microsoft broke their 2nd promise.

01/Jun/2008 – I refused to continue the discussion with Microsoft until they change their mind back, and keep their promises.

04/Jun/2008 – Microsoft changed their mind back, stating that this is a onetime exception and they will credit my work in both the advisory and bulletin.

06/Jun/2008 – Microsoft updated their advisory and added the acknowledgment.

19/Jun/2008 – Apple fixed their side of the “Blended threat”, and released a new version of Safari. Still no fix from Microsoft.

02/Aug/2008 – Microsoft approached me at their BlackHat conference party. They stated that due to application compatibility issues (mostly with Adobe applications), the vulnerability will not be fixed until the release of Windows 7.

19/Mar/2009 – Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8, which is not vulnerable to the “DLL-load Hijacking” vulnerability. Older versions were still vulnerable.

14/Apr/2009 – After almost two and a half years since I first notified them about the vulnerability, and almost one year after I notified them about the “blended threat”, Microsoft have finally released a patch. They broke their 3rd promise (Windows 7, remember?), but this time for a good reason.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009 20:44:57 UTC | Comments [1] | Security#
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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.