LNK zero-day, the fundamentals

Over the weekend I spent more time looking into the zero-day LNK (shortcut) Windows vulnerability that Aleks blogged about last week. It’s now been classified as CVE-2010-2568 and is being actively exploited in the wild.

My main conclusion is that this vulnerability is a fundamental part of how Windows handles LNK files. This means there are two huge negatives – firstly, as this functionality is pretty standard, it's going to be harder to create effective generic detections which don't cause false positives.

Secondly, I suspect Microsoft is going to have a very hard time patching this one. There doesn’t seem to be any security model associated with how Windows handles shortcuts. This whole situation reminds me a bit of vulnerabilities in the WMF format – it’s another case of legacy code coming back to bite Microsoft.

We’ve released generic detection for malicious LNK files which try to exploit the feature. I think that the LNK format will start receiving a lot more attention now, both from the good guys, and the bad, so do take a look at the mitigations put up by Microsoft. I’m sure it will be time well spent, as I fully expect this vulnerability to be widely exploited while we’re waiting for the patch.

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