Two tenacious exploits debunk vendor claims

The Adobe Flash Clipboard Hijack and the XP Antivirus exploit throw "state-of-the-art" Web security clients for a loop

Many sandbox security vendors claim that their products stop all known and unknown attacks. Even assuming the ability to curtail all known attacks could be proven, it's simply impossible to believe that any piece of software could halt all unknown attacks. Of course, that doesn't prevent the vendors from making empty promises or the malware authors from proving them wrong.


See review: Sandbox security versus the evil Web

In my testing of five sandbox security clients -- Authentium's SafeCentral, Check Point's ZoneAlarm ForceField, Prevx, Sandboxie, and SoftSphere Technologies' DefenseWall HIPS -- I exposed all the products to dozens of malicious attacks, both well known and not so well known. Two malware programs, in particular, stretched the various competitors to their breaking points: the Adobe Flash clipboard hijack exploit and the XP Antivirus malware program.

The Adobe Flash clipboard hijack is an example of a cross-platform, cross-browser exploit. The exploit was first reported in the middle of August, when it started showing up on legitimate Web sites innocently hosting malicious banner ads. It works against Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and other browsers capable of running Adobe's Macromedia Flash plug-in. When activated, the clipboard hijack writes persistent data to the user's clipboard (that is, the edit-copy, edit-paste buffer). Even users with fully patched systems and the latest browsers had their clipboards hijacked.

The Adobe Flash clipboard hijack deposits a malicious URL on the user's clipboard so that every time the user pastes content, they end up pasting the bogus link instead of -- or in addition to -- their intended content. The idea is to trick the user into clicking on the link or inadvertently posting it in blog comments and the like.

For my product testing, I used a safe demo of the exploit is pasted to your clipboard. To remove it, you must close the browser session and copy some new text to your clipboard. In some cases, you may have to reboot your computer to get rid of the hijacking.

I used this clipboard hijack demo attack to see how well the reviewed products could defend against a relatively unexpected attack vector. The clipboard hijack was especially difficult to defend because it used multiple applications to do its dirty work and did not modify any files. As I expected, none of the products prevented this attack.

Another major threat going around these days is known as the XP Antivirus 2008 exploit and a few similar names. A user is socially engineered into installing a bogus anti-virus program, which then detects thousands of malicious viruses and prompts the user to buy the program to get rid of the malware. Not surprisingly, often the only malware program truly installed on the system is the XP Antivirus 2008 program itself.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags exploits and vulnerabilities

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Roger A. Grimes

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?