Big Patch Tuesday: Microsoft and Adobe fix in-the-wild exploits

Big Patch Tuesday: Microsoft and Adobe fix in-the-wild exploits

Traditionally the second Tuesday of the month is Microsoft’s “patch Tuesday”. This is the day when they roll out all the available patches for their software, and their operating systems in particular.

Since there were no less than 56 patches in this month’s issue we will focus on the most important ones. Not that 56 is an awful lot. There were more than 80 in January.

Microsoft CVEs by importance

Publicly disclosed computer security flaws are listed in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. Its goal is to make it easier to share data across separate vulnerability capabilities (tools, databases, and services). The most notable CVE’s in this update were:

  • CVE-2021-1732 Windows Win32k elevation of privilege (EoP) vulnerability. This one we listed first as it’s actively exploited in the wild. With a EoP vulnerability attackers can raise their authorization permissions beyond those initially granted. For example, if an attacker gains access to a system but only has read-only permissions they can use an EoP vulnerability to raise them to “read and write”,  giving them an option to make unwanted changes.
  • CVE-2021-26701 a .NET Core Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability. A remote code execution (RCE) attack happens when a threat actor illegally accesses and manipulates a computer or server without authorization from its owner. This is the only critical bug Microsoft listed as publicly known.
  • CVE-2021-24074 an IPv4 security vulnerability concerning source routing behavior. Microsoft adds to say: IPv4 Source routing is considered insecure and is blocked by default in Windows; however, a system will process the request and return an ICMP message denying the request.
  •  CVE-2021-24094 an IPv6 security vulnerability concerning the reassembly limit and related to the previous one. The reassembly limit controls the IP fragmentation, which is an Internet Protocol (IP) process that breaks packets into smaller fragments, so that the resulting pieces can pass through a link with a smaller maximum transmission unit (MTU) than the original packet size. The fragments are reassembled by the receiving host. Apparently an attacker could construe packets leading to a situation where a large number of fragments could lead to code execution.
  • CVE-2021-1721 a .NET Core and Visual Studio Denial of Service vulnerability. A Denial of Service attack is focused on making a resource (site, application, server) unavailable for the purpose it was designed.
  • CVE-2021-1722 and CVE-2021-24077 are both Windows Fax Service RCE problems. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t use “Windows Fax and Scan”, the Windows Fax Services is enabled by default.
  • CVE-2021-1733 is for Sysinternals’ PsExec Elevation of Privilege vulnerability. While this one is listed as not likely to be exploited, the tool itself is worth keeping an eye on, because it’s so popular with cybercriminals. They like it because, as a legitimate administration tool, it isn’t normally detected as malicious software by default.

If you are all about prioritizing your updates, these are the ones that we recommend doing first. Everyone else is advised to install the updates at their earliest convenience.

One other notable thing is the default enabling of the Domain Controller enforcement mode. This was done to counter the effects of the ZeroLogon vulnerability which is being exploited in the wild. We already covered the full story of ZeroLogon where this change was announced.

Adobe Reader for a change

And while you are about to start your update cycles, you may want to have a look at this one from Adobe. Because this one is already actively being exploited as well. Where Adobe was notoriously famous for the bugs in their Flash Player, which has now reached end-of-life, occasionally a vulnerability in their Reader attracts some attention.

CVE-2021-21017 is a critical heap-based buffer overflow flaw. Heap is the name for a region of a process’ memory which is used to store dynamic variables. A buffer overflow is a type of software vulnerability that exists when an area of memory within a software application reaches its address boundary and writes into an adjacent memory region. In software exploit code, two common areas that are targeted for overflows are the stack and the heap.

So, by creating a specially crafted input, attackers could use this vulnerability to write code into a memory location where they normally wouldn’t have access. In their advisory Adobe states that it has received a report that CVE-2021-21017 has been exploited in the wild in limited attacks targeting Adobe Reader users on Windows.

Both Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader will automatically detect if a new version of the software is available. The program will check for a new version when you launch either Acrobat or Reader as an application and will prompt you to install a new version when it’s available. IT administrators can control the update settings by using the Adobe Customization Wizard.

Stay safe, everyone!