Attackers Exploiting QuickTime RTSP Flaw in the Wild

Attackers are now exploiting the issue through the Second Life Viewer to steal virtual money.

The unsavory types have done exactly as security researchers warned they would, releasing into the wild exploit code for a vulnerability in how Apple's QuickTime Player 7.3 handles RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) responses from a video/audio streaming server.

Symantec on Dec. 1 spotted an attack that uses iFrame code to force a browser to send out a request to a URL embedded in an adult content site. Users visiting the site are redirected to a malicious page serving the exploit.

The attacks have since then taken on new twists: Attackers are now exploiting the issue through the Second Life Viewer to steal virtual money—known as Linden Dollars—from victims, Symantec's Deep Sight Alert Services said in a Dec. 4 update to its original advisory.

The mention of a virtual reality game might make the vulnerability sound too consumer-ish for businesses to take seriously. Take heed, though: With no patch available and no word from Apple on a patch ETA, there are only workarounds such as these from US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team), each of which "makes the use of valid QuickTime content next to impossible," the SANS Institute noted in a Dec. 2 advisory.

At the heart of the problem is a remote buffer-overflow vulnerability in QuickTime caused by failure to properly check user-supplied input before copying it into an insufficiently-sized, stack-based memory buffer. The problem occurs when QuickTime handles maliciously crafted RTSP response headers that have an excessively large Content Type value.


To exploit the issue, an attacker has to lure unsuspecting users into connecting to a malicious RTSP server. Attackers can then exploit the vulnerability to redirect Internet Explorer or Firefox and to either hijack the systems they're running on or cause an application failure. Vulnerable applications include Apple QuickTime Player 7.3—other versions may also be vulnerable—and Linden Research's Second Life Viewer.


Anti-virus programs are picking up the exploits, but Symantec is warning people to still be careful when browsing the Web. They're also recommending that, in the absence of a patch, users run browsers at the highest security settings possible; disable QuickTime as a registered RTSP protocol handler; and filter outgoing activity over common RTSP ports, including TCP port 554 and UDP ports 6970-6999.

The original flaw was discovered by a Polish security researcher named Krystian Kloskowski, who disclosed his findings on Nov. 23. Since then, multiple proof-of-concepts were also posted on the Milw0rm public forum between Nov. 24 and 27, with the most recent POC being posted by a researcher with the online name of InTeL on Dec. 2.

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