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RE: Possibly yet another MS mail worm

  • From: Vivien M.
  • Date: Mon Mar 01 12:45:41 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On 
> Behalf Of Curtis Maurand
> Sent: March 1, 2004 10:38 AM
> To: Todd Vierling
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Possibly yet another MS mail worm
> My point is that the COM/DCOM/OLE/ActiveX is what allows for 
> a script in 
> an email message that gets executed to have access to the rest of the 
> system, rather than executing within a protected sandbox.  Of course 
> scripts within email messages shouldn't execute at all.  Once they do 
> execute, they have access to the OLE objects on the machine.  Its a 
> security hole big enough to drive a tank through. 

And I hate to point out the obvious, but that's not what we're discussing
here. If you receive a .zip attachment, save it to disk, open it up in
WinZip or the integrated ZIP utility (which I might add is a feature GUI
OSes made outside Redmond also share), extract the .exe in it, and open it
up, ActiveX/OLE/DCOM/etc has NOTHING to do with the fact that the thing is
destructive and that you were allowed to run it.

Sure, having an executable flag like on *NIX would make it a little harder,
but you know what? If I send you a shell script on *NIX called in
a tarball that does a rm -rf / if you're root, and tells you to be root if
you're not, then your session will look like this:
1. Save blah.tar.gz to disk.
2. tar zxf blah.tar.gz
3. chmod 755
4. ./
5. "Error. This script must be run as root."
6. su -
7. ./
8. Wave byebye to your filesystems.

The problem then isn't technological: an alternative OS, with an
equally-determined (and idiotic) user as the Windows user, provides ZERO
protection against this type of attack. And if you think that step 3 or 5
provided any protection against a determined user, you're wrong.

Vivien M.
Assistant System Administrator
Dynamic Network Services, Inc. 

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