27 October 2010 | 12,620 views

Hackers Exploit Unpatched Firefox 0day Using Nobel Peace Prize Website

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It’s been a while since Firefox has been in the news, but this is a fairly high profile case involving the Nobel Peace Prize website. It seems there is a race condition vulnerability in the latest versions of Firefox (including 3.6.11) that allows remote exploitation.

In this case it was used via an iFrame on nobelpeaceprize.org which then downloaded malware to the visitors machine using a multi-exploit back-end which amongst others also leveraged this 0day Firefox exploit.

Malicious hackers have exploited an unpatched vulnerability in the latest version of Firefox to attack people visiting the Nobel Peace Prize website, a Norway-based security firm said on Tuesday.

Mozilla representatives confirmed a “critical vulnerability” in versions 3.5 and 3.6 of the open-source browser. It came several hours after the organization members were said to have made the same admission on this password-protected Bugzilla page. According to Einar Oftedal, a detection executive at Norman ASA in Oslo, the official website for the Nobel Peace prize, nobelpeaceprize.org, was compromised so that it contained an iframe link to a malicious server.

“This iframe has a multi exploit backend and serves exploits for Firefox, including a working remote exploit for Firefox 3.6.11,” he said in an instant message to The Register. “We didn’t see any 0day for IE,” he added, referring to Microsoft’s browser.

Mozilla claims they will address this issue soon and past history dictates that a patch will come out within a few days, so look forwards to Firefox 3.6.12 by the end of the week. It seems to be a fairly advanced and targeted attack.

Of course the conspiracy theorists will say that the attack was carried out by the Chinese Government as their way of complaining that the most recent Nobel Peace Prize was given to a Chinese dissident named Liu Xiaobo.


He said the attack exploited a race condition vulnerability in Firefox to force end users to install malware his firm has dubbed Belmoo. The Windows executable was created on Sunday and attempts to connect to several internet addresses, according to his analysis.

If the addresses resolve, “the malware attaches a command shell to the opened socket, giving an attacker access on the local computer with the same rights as the logged on user.” If not, the malware will exit.

If Norman’s report proves accurate, it’s the first time in recent memory attackers have exploited an unpatched vulnerability in Firefox. Most so-called zero-day attacks are perpetrated against Adobe Reader or Flash Player, Microsoft software and to a lesser extent Oracle’s Java. The report is also unusual because the attack didn’t appear to target other applications, as is typical with exploit packages.

Hours after the reports surfaced, Mozilla said it would issue a fix as soon as possible. In the meantime, users can protect themselves by disabling JavaScript altogether or installing the NoScript extension that allows users to control which websites are permitted to run JavaScript.

As per usual you can protect yourself against this flaw by using NoScript or disabling JavaScript functionality in your browser.

It’s been a while since there’s been a serious bug in Firefox, most of the recent ones have not been exploitable or have involved passive activities like data leakage and clickjacking.

Source: The Register



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