BAD TASTE GNOME Vulnerability leads to Code Injection in Linux

A new vulnerability(CVE-2017-11421) has been discovered by German security researcher Nils Dagsson Moskopp dubbed as BAD TASTE , which is a code injection vulnerability in the thumbnail handler component of GNOME Files file manager that could allow hackers to execute malicious code on targeted Linux machines.

The POC has also been disclosed here.

“Thumbnail generation for MSI files in GNOME Files executes arbitrary VBScript.” states Moskopp.

The code injection vulnerability resides in “gnome-exe-thumbnailer” — a tool to generate thumbnails from Windows executable files (.exe/.msi/.dll/.lnk) for GNOME, which requires users to have Wine application(a free and open-source software that allows Windows applications to run on the Linux operating system) installed on their systems to open it.

while navigating to a directory containing the .msi file, GNOME Files takes the filename as an executable input and run it in order to create an image thumbnail.

For successful exploitation of the vulnerability, an attacker can send a crafted Windows installer (MSI) file with malicious VBScript code in its filename, which if downloaded on a vulnerable system would compromise the machine without further user interaction.

Create MSI Files

Create a file named poc.xml with the following content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Wix xmlns="">
<Product Version="1.0"/>

Execute the following Bourne Shell code:

wixl -o poc.msi poc.xml
cp poc.msi "poc.msi\",0):Set fso=CreateObject(\"Scripting.FileSystemObject\"):Set poc=fso.CreateTextFile(\"badtaste.txt\")'.msi"

Trigger Execution

Start GNOME Files and navigate to the folder with the MSI files. An empty file with the name badtaste.txt should appear.

“Whenever an icon for a Microsoft Windows executable (EXE), installer (MSI), library (DLL), or shortcut (LNK) should be shown, Gnome Files calls /usr/bin/gnome-exethumbnailer to either extract an embedded icon from the file in question or deliver a fallback image for the appropriate filetype.” explained the expert.

The expert highlighted that the problem is triggered due to the presence of just one line of code in /usr/bin/gnome-exe-thumbnailer:

DISPLAY=NONE wine cscript.exe //E:vbs //NoLogo Z:\\tmp\\${TEMPFILE1##*/}.vbs 2>/dev/null \

“Instead of parsing an MSI file to get its version number, this code creates a script containing the filename for which a thumbnail should be shown and executes that using Wine. The script is constructed using a template, which makes it possible to embed VBScript in a filename and trigger its execution.” Dagsson Moskopp added. 

Remedy (for users)

Delete all files in /usr/share/thumbnailers. Do not use GNOME FilesCinnamon Nemo or Mate caja. Uninstall any other software that facilitates automatically executing parts of filenames as code.

Remedy (for developers)

Do not parse files with bug-ridden ad-hoc parsers. Fully recognize inputs before processing them. Do not use templates, use unparsers instead. Read about LANGSEC.


Author: Cognore

Cyber Security Solution

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