Mozilla Beats Apple & Microsoft to Pwn2Own Patch For Firefox

Outsmart Malicious Hackers


Seems like Pwn2Own is getting a reputation for uncovering some pretty nasty browser based vulnerabilities, once again this year Firefox, Safari and IE8 were all broken wide open. The latest development is Mozilla has beaten both Microsoft and Apple to the punch and released Firefox 3.6.3 patching the vulnerability.

Again it was a critical vulnerability and the creator netted himself $10,000 from the contest for the exploit. Pretty fast patching from Firefox though with an 8 day turnaround, and the vulnerability is only on Firefox 3.6.x not 3.5.x in its current state.

Mozilla late yesterday patched a critical Firefox vulnerability used by a German researcher to win $10,000 for hacking the open-source browser at last week’s Pwn2Own contest.

In a repeat of 2009, Mozilla was the first browser maker to patch a bug exploited at Pwn2Own. In fact, the company improved on its performance by fixing the newest flaw only eight days after Nils, a researcher who works for U.K.-based MWR InfoSecurity, hacked Firefox. Last year, Mozilla took 10 days to come up with its Pwn2Own fix. Nils also successfully exploited Firefox at 2009’s contest.

This time, Nils used a memory corruption flaw to hack the browser, Mozilla said in the security advisory that accompanied the update to Firefox 3.6.3. It rated the bug as “critical,” the highest threat ranking in its four-step scoring system.

Nils exploited Firefox 3.6.2 — Mozilla had patched the browser just two days before the contest kicked off — on 64-bit Windows 7 , also bypassing the operating system’s DEP (data execution prevention) and ASLR (address space layout randomization) defenses. For his work, Nils was awarded $10,000 by 3Com TippingPoint, Pwn2Own’s sponsor.

Gotta give him some props though, exploiting the latest version of Firefox and bypassing both DEP and ASLR. Nice work Nils! It just goes to shows, if the motivation is there (which it is for many blackhats) then an entry vector can be found.

Especially with the rapid pace of software development in the web era, there’s no way everything can be kept secure with all the additional features and functions that are constantly being added.

Other researchers hacked Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) to also win $10,000 each.

According to Mozilla, Nils’ exploit only works against Firefox 3.6, the newest edition, but the company said it planned to also patch Firefox 3.5 “just in case there is an alternate way of triggering the bug.” Mozilla did not specify a timeline for the Firefox 3.5 update. Firefox 3.5 was just patched last Monday to bring it to version 3.5.9.

Mozilla restricted access to additional information on the vulnerability by locking down Bugzilla, its change- and bug-tracking database, allowing only authorized users to view information on the flaw. That move is typical of Mozilla when it has patched some, but not all, of its browsers.

Neither Apple or Microsoft has announced plans to patch their Pwn2Own vulnerabilities. Microsoft has acknowledged receiving details of the IE8 vulnerabilities that Dutch researcher Peter Vreugdenhil used to hack the browser, but earlier this week said a patch was not ready.

Microsoft as usual have stated it is still ‘under investigation’ having just patched 10 vulnerabilities in IE8 last week, they now have another to add to the list. I’m not holding my breath for an out-of-band patch however.

Mozilla also made the move to lock the public out of the vulnerability details on Bugzilla to prevent it from getting into the wild.

No news from Apple yet on the Safari bug, wonder when they’ll come out with a fix for it? Or acknowledge it even? Or perhaps they’ve already fixed it and pushed out the patch..who knows?

Source: Network World

Posted in: Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Web Hacking

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3 Responses to Mozilla Beats Apple & Microsoft to Pwn2Own Patch For Firefox

  1. Droope April 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    It is interesting to see how different companies approached this event:

    Mozilla acknowledged the bug, and fixed it in 10 days. Not only it did that, but publically announced it as critical, and fix it in a previous version – just in case -.

    On the other hand, microsoft made a public statement saying that it will be fixed, and that’s all folks, at least for now.

    Safari is all secrecy.

    Interesting. :) I will likely make a post on my blog about this.

    Regards,
    Droope.

  2. Some guy April 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    nice observation droope. Micro$oft and Safari pips probably have too much business profit considerations hampering their decision and action on the necessary steps unlike the mozilla crew.

  3. Darien April 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    The design for your website is a bit off in K-Melon. Nonetheless I like your blog. I may have to install a “normal” browser just to enjoy it. :)