Microsoft Finally Patches a 2018 Zero-Day Vulnerability in Windows


CVE-2020-1464, a security flaw in Windows was out in the open for two years and most importantly, Microsoft knew about it. Yet, the company delayed issuing a patch for Windows users. 

Microsoft announced fixes to 120 vulnerabilities last week as part of their monthly Patch Tuesday for August. The patch made several Microsoft products much safer to work with, but one particular vulnerability CVE-2020-1464Opens a new window has caught the eye of the tech sphere. CVE-2020-1464 is a zero-day spoofing vulnerability that could validate incorrect, maybe malicious file signatures. It allows threat actors to bypass the Microsoft Windows’ safeguards to load malicious data files patched on to microsoft installer (.MSI) files.

The vulnerability was originally discovered in August 2018 by VirusTotalOpens a new window , with a follow up analysisOpens a new window by Bernardo QuinteroOpens a new window , the company’s General Manager. Despite the report, and a formal collaboration between Quintero and Microsoft Security Response Center, the Redmond-based tech behemoth did not issue a fix for two years, until now. This seems quite odd considering the seriousness of the vulnerability available in the wild, ready to be exploited.

Wait wait wait. Either CVE-2020-1464 is for something different and @RedDrip7Opens a new window is wrong, or it is actually for something years old & well known thing that even skids using in past months, for that MS said they won’t fix more than 1,5 years ago…

— MalwareHunterTeam (@malwrhunterteam) August 14, 2020Opens a new window

Quintero wrote, “Microsoft has decided that it will not be fixing this issue in the current versions of Windows and agreed we are able to blog about this case and our findings publicly.”

See Also: Microsoft Patch Tuesday Plugs 120 Bugs Including Two Zero-Day Exploits

CVE-2020-1464 makes use of a bug in the code signing process implemented in Microsoft Windows. Code signing is a method of authenticating software and maintaining its integrity by verifying the author of a software or a program. The process ensures that the software has not been tampered with since the author last signed it. 

Microsoft explainedOpens a new window , “The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user.”

Quintero wrote that an attacker could append a malicious Java (JAR) file at the end of the signed MSI file. This file is concealed since MsiSIPVerifyIndirectData verification checks and authenticates only the beginning of the MSI file. 

Quintero explained, “In short, an attacker can append a malicious JAR to a MSI file signed by a trusted software developer (like Microsoft Corporation, Google Inc. or any other well-known developer), and the resulting file can be renamed with the .jar extension and will have a valid signature according Microsoft Windows.”

“Attackers could append any data they want to the end of a signed MSI, and still have this file considered as verified by Windows. This trust bypass was made exploitable by appending a Java JAR executable to the end of the MSI. JAR files are evaluated from their end, thus creating a perfect malicious tandem:

Hadar tweeted about a fix with which he patched a system, and deemed it to be ‘pretty simple’.

@TalBeerySecOpens a new window and I were curious about #CVEOpens a new window -2020-1464 which allows one to load improperly signed files on Windows. @RedDrip7Opens a new window said it was an MSI issue, so I patch-diffed MSISIP.dll and the vuln looks pretty simple, I’ll update if I’ll have a working PoC 🙂#PatchTuesdayOpens a new window a new window

— Peleg Hadar (@peleghd) August 16, 2020Opens a new window

Be’ery explains that the patched MsiSIPVerifyIndirectData now checks size of the MSI file.

The duo used patch and diffOpens a new window to verify the solution and could generate expected results. As shown in the gif below, CVE-2020-1464 is returned as invalid and valid on unpatched and patched systems respectively. 

When quizzed why it took two years to fix CVE-2020-1464, Microsoft told KrebsOnSecurity: “A security update was released in August. Customers who apply the update, or have automatic updates enabled, will be protected. We continue to encourage customers to turn on automatic updates to help ensure they are protected,” effectively side-stepping the question.

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