VMware patches critical virtual machine escape flaws

Four vulnerabilities demonstrated during the Pwn2Own hacking contest were fixed in VMware ESXi, Workstation and Fusion.

IDG

IDG

VMware has released critical security patches for vulnerabilities demonstrated during the recent Pwn2Own hacking contest that could be exploited to escape from the isolation of virtual machines.

The patches fix four vulnerabilities that affect VMware ESXi, VMware Workstation Pro and Player and VMware Fusion.

Two of the vulnerabilities, tracked as CVE-2017-4902 and CVE-2017-4903 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database, were exploited by a team from Chinese internet security firm Qihoo 360 as part of an attack demonstrated two weeks ago at Pwn2Own.

The team's exploit chain started with a compromise of Microsoft Edge, moved to the Windows kernel, and then exploited the two flaws to escape from a virtual machine and execute code on the host operating system. The researchers were awarded $105,000 for their feat.

Pwn2Own is an annual hacking contest organized by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) program that runs during the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver, Canada. Researchers receive cash prizes for demonstrating zero-day -- previously unknown -- exploits against browsers, operating systems and other popular enterprise software programs.

This year, the contest organizers added prizes for exploits in hypervisors like VMware Workstation and Microsoft Hyper-V and two teams stepped up to the challenge.

The second team, made up of researchers from the Keen Lab and PC Manager divisions of internet services provider Tencent, exploited the two other flaws patched by VMware this week: CVE-2017-4904 and CVE-2017-4905. The latter is a memory information leak vulnerability that is rated only as moderate, but which could help hackers pull off a more serious attack.

Users are advised to update VMware Workstation to version 12.5.5 on all platforms and VMware Fusion to version 8.5.6 on macOS (OS X). Individual patches are also available for ESXi 6.5, 6.0 U3, 6.0 U2, 6.0 U1 and 5.5, where applicable.

Virtual machines are often used to create throw-away environments that pose no threat to the main operating system in case of compromise. For example, malware researchers execute malicious code and visit suspicious URLs inside virtual machines to observe their behavior. Companies also run many applications inside virtual machines to limit the potential impact if they're compromised.

One of the main goals of hypervisors like VMware Workstation is to create a barrier between the guest operating system that runs inside the virtual machine and the host OS where the hypervisor runs. That's why VM escape exploits are highly prized among hackers.

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.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?