Kaspersky ‘hunts down’ hardware vulnerabilities

Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT researchers found a variety of serious vulnerabilities in the Hardware Against Software Piracy (HASP) license management system.

The system is widely used in corporate and ICS environments to activate the licensed software.

Despite this, a number of systems affected by the vulnerable technology may amount to hundreds of thousands and even more worldwide.

The USB-tokens in question are being widely used in different organisations to serve the purpose of convenient software license activation.

Legitimate software

In normal use case scenarios, a company’s system administrator would need to approach the computer with the software that needs to be activated and insert the token.

It will then confirm that the software of interest is indeed legitimate (not pirated) and would activate it, so the user of the PC or server would then be able to use this software.

Once the token is attached to a PC or a server for the first time, the Windows OS downloads the software driver from the vendor’s servers in order to make the token hardware work properly with the computer hardware.

In other cases, the driver comes installed with third-party software which uses the aforementioned system for license protection.

Kaspersky experts found that, upon installation, this software adds port 1947 of the computer to the list of exclusions of the Windows Firewall with no proper user notification, making it available for a remote attack.

HASP solution

An attacker would only need to scan the targeted network for open port 1947 in order to identify any remotely available computers.

More importantly, the port remains open after the token has been de-attached, which is why even in a patched and protected corporate environment an attacker would only need to install a software using the HASP solution or attach the token to a PC once (even a locked one) in order to make it available for remote attacks.

Overall, researchers identified 14 vulnerabilities in a component of the software solution, including multiple DoS vulnerabilities and several RCEs (remote execution of arbitrary code) which, for instance, are automatically exploited not with user rights, but with the most privileged system rights.

This provides attackers with an opportunity to execute any arbitrary codes. All identified vulnerabilities can be potentially very dangerous and result in big losses for businesses.

Discovered vulnerabilities

All the information has been reported to the vendor. All discovered vulnerabilities received the following CVE numbers:

  • CVE-2017-11496 – Remote code execution
  • CVE-2017-11497 – Remote code execution
  • CVE-2017-11498 – Denial of service
  • CVE-2017-12818 – Denial of service
  • CVE-2017-12819 – NTLM hash capturing
  • CVE-2017-12820 – Denial of service
  • CVE-2017-12821 – Remote code execution
  • CVE-2017- 12822 – Remote manipulations with configuration files

Vladimir Dashchenko, head of vulnerability research group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT, added: “Given how widespread this license management system is, the possible scale of consequences is very large because these tokens are used not only in regular corporate environments but also in critical facilities with strict remote access rules.

‘Networks in danger’

“The latter could easily be broken with the help of the issue which we discovered to be putting critical networks in danger”.

Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT also strongly recommends that users of the affected products do the following:

  • Install the latest (secure) version of the driver as soon as possible, or contact the vendor for instructions on updating the driver.
  • Close port 1947, at least on the external firewall (on the network perimeter) – but only as long as this does not interfere with business processes.

Written from press release by Leah Alger