Mark Litchfield, of U.K.-based NGSSoftware, published his report Friday -- one day after RealNetworks confirmed the vulnerabilities and issued new server installation binaries that contain remedies to the potential buffer overrun vulnerabilities. Vulnerable systems include Windows, FreeBSD, HP-UX, AIX, Linux, Sun Solaris 2.7 & 2.8.
"As far as any users of Helix goes, I personally would regard this as critical, as anyone exploiting these vulnerabilities can completely compromise the server and do exactly as they choose," Litchfield told internetnews.com.
Common in applications written in C/C++, buffer overruns are attacks in which a malicious user exploits an unchecked buffer in a program and overwrites the program code with their own data. If the program code is overwritten with new executable code, the effect is to change the program's operation as dictated by the attacker. If overwritten with other data, the likely effect is to cause the program to crash.
In another flaw, an attacker can run code of their choosing by making two HTTP requests (port 80) containing long URI's simultaneously, (in making the first connection, it will appear to hang, by keeping this session open and making another connection and supplying the same request again ), will cause the saved return address to also be overwritten. In yet another flaw, a perpetrator can overwrite the saved return address allowing the execution of code by supplying a very long URL in the Describe field.
According to RealNetworks, the only RealNetworks Server product impacted by these security vulnerabilities is the Helix Universal Server version 9.0: the Helix Universal Proxy and prior RealSystem Server and Proxy software are not affected.
RealNetworks said on its Web site it has received no reports that this vulnerability has been exploited in the field and that it has made a security update available to customers -- 9.01 (188.8.131.524).
With Helix, the normally proprietary-minded RealNetworks unleashed a bit of a frenzy in the open-source world months ago by pledging to make certain aspects of its code available to developers to test and tweak. The Seattle-based firm most recently released code for its Helix DNA Producer.