A researcher renowned for tinkering with Active X controls tossed a pail of ice water today at Black Hat on the security-first marketing associated with Vista.
Su Yong Kim demonstrated how developers often install program files or store sensitive data in low integrity folders in order to simplify updates. Problem is, these folders don’t require user agreement to access and execute the contents. Given that vulnerabilities in XP and Vista — buffer overflows, privilege elevation — are essentially identical, attack techniques need only slight tweaks to work on Vista.
“Developers don’t want to annoy users with constant pop-ups,” Kim said, referring to the maligned user access controls in Vista. “When Active X is updated, user agreement is required. The solution is to store sensitive data in a low-integrity folder. Malware can overwrite the DLL or sensitive data in low integrity folders. Attackers can gain administrator privileges exploiting Active X in low integrity folders.”