Malware may hide behind long names in Windows registry

A recently discovered Windows flaw could allow malware to lurk undetected in Windows Registry string names.

Security experts have found a vulnerability in the Windows operating system that could allow malware to lurk undetected in long string names of the Windows Registry.

According to a security advisory by Denmark-based IT security company, Secunia, the weakness is caused by an error in the Windows Registry Editor Utility's handling of long string names. A malicious program could hide itself in a registry key by creating a string with a long name, which would allow the malicious string and any created after it in the same key to remain hidden, according to Secunia. Keys are stored in the Windows Registry, which saves a PC's configuration settings.

Secunia has confirmed that the vulnerability affects the "Run" registry key, according to the advisory. Malicious strings in this key will be executed when a user logs in to the PC.

The vulnerability affects Windows XP and Windows 2000 and has been confirmed to exist on fully updated XP systems with Service Pack 2 and Windows 2000 systems with Service Pack 4, according to Secunia.

Microsoft issued a statement on the vulnerability saying it is investigating the weakness and is not aware of any malicious attacks that have exploited it.

Moreover, the company asserted that the vulnerability by itself could not allow an attacker to remotely or locally attack a user's computer. It could only be exploited if the computer had its security compromised in some other way or was already running malicious software.

In its advisory, Secunia provided several solutions to avoid exploitation of the vulnerability, one of which is to ensure that systems have up-to-date anti-virus and spyware detection software installed.

The security company also said it is possible to see the hidden registry strings with the "reg" command-line utility of the Windows Registry, and that the "regedt32.exe" utility on Windows 2000 is not affected by the weakness.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?