ASPR #2011-08-18-2: Remote Binary Planting in Mozilla Thunderbird

From: ACROS Security Lists <>
Subject: ASPR #2011-08-18-2: Remote Binary Planting in Mozilla Thunderbird



ACROS Security Problem Report #2011-08-18-2
ASPR #2011-08-18-2: Remote Binary Planting in Mozilla Thunderbird

Document ID:     ASPR #2011-08-18-2-PUB
Vendor:          Mozilla (
Target:          Mozilla Thunderbird 
Impact:          Remote execution of arbitrary code
Severity:        Very high
Status:          Official fix available, workarounds available
Discovered by:   Jure Skofic of ACROS Security

CVSS score:      9.3 (HIGH) (AV:N/AC:M/Au:N/C:C/I:C/A:C)
CVE ID:          CVE-2011-2980
CWE ID:          CWE-426: Untrusted Search Path

Current version


A "binary planting" [1] vulnerability in Mozilla Thunderbird allows local 
or remote (even Internet-based) attackers to deploy and execute malicious 
code on Windows machines in the context of logged-on users.

Product Coverage

- Mozilla Thunderbird 3.1.11 and earlier versions for Windows


As a result of an incorrect dynamic link library loading in Mozilla 
Thunderbird for Windows, an attacker can cause her malicious DLL to be 
loaded and executed from local drives, remote Windows shares, and even 
shares located on Internet. 

All a remote attacker has to do is plant a malicious DLL with a specific 
name on a network share and get the user to open a specially crafted  file 
from this network location - which should require minimal social 
engineering. Since Windows systems by default have the Web Client service 
running - which makes remote network shares accessible via WebDAV -, the 
malicious DLL can also be deployed from an Internet-based network share as 
long as the intermediate firewalls allow outbound HTTP traffic to the 

A systematic attack could deploy malicious code to a large number of 
Windows workstations in a short period of time, possibly as an Internet 

Visit for more information on binary 
planting vulnerabilities and attacks.

Additional details are available to interested corporate and government 
customers under NDA, as public disclosure would reveal too many details on 
the vulnerability and unduly accelerate malicious exploitation.

Mitigating Factors 

- A firewall blocking outbound WebDAV traffic (in addition to blocking all 
  Windows Networking protocols) could stop an Internet-based attack.

- Microsoft's CWDIllegalInDllSearch hotfix [2] can stop a network-based 
  exploitation of this vulnerability.


Mozilla has issued a security bulletin [3] and published a remediated 
version of Thunderbird that fixes this issue.


- Stopping the Web Client service could stop Internet-based attacks as 
  long as the network firewall stops outbound Microsoft Networking 
  protocols. This would not, however, stop remote LAN-based attacks where 
  the attacker is able to place a malicious DLL on a network share inside 
  the target (e.g., corporate) network.
- General recommendations for limiting or stopping binary planting attacks 
  are available at

Related Services

ACROS is offering professional consulting on this issue to interested 
corporate and government customers. Typical questions we can help you 
answer are:

1) To what extent is your organization affected by this issue?

2) Is it possible to get remote code from the Internet launched inside 
   your network? Can this be demonstrated?

3) Have you adequately applied the remedies to remove the vulnerability?

4) Are there circumstances in your environment that might prevent the 
   effectiveness of this fix?

5) Are there other workarounds that you could implement to fix this issue 
   more efficiently and/or inexpensively?

6) Are your systems or applications vulnerable to other similar issues?

Interested parties are encouraged to ask for more information at


ACROS Security has performed an extensive Binary Planting research 
project, focused on various types of vulnerabilities where an attacker 
with low privileges can place (i.e., "plant") a malicious executable file 
(i.e., "binary") to some possibly remote location and get it launched by 
some vulnerable application running on user's computer. 

The research found that binary planting vulnerabilities are affecting a 
large percentage of Windows applications and often allowing for trivial 
exploitation: it identified ~520 remotely exploitable bugs in ~200 widely-
used Windows applications. A large majority of these vulnerabilties 
remain unfixed and publicly unknown at the time of this writing.

Find out more:

Follow ACROS Security on Twitter to get immediate updates on the ongoing 
Binary Planting research and other research projects.


[1] Binary Planting - The Official Web Site

[2] Microsoft's CWDIllegalInDllSearch hotfix

[3] Mozilla Foundation Security Advisory 2011-32


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ACROS Security Advisories


The content of this report is purely informational and meant only for the 
purpose of education and protection. ACROS d.o.o. shall in no event be 
liable for any damage whatsoever, direct or implied, arising from use or 
spread of this information. All identifiers (hostnames, IP addresses, 
company names, individual names etc.) used in examples and demonstrations 
are used only for explanatory purposes and have no connection with any 
real host, company or individual. In no event should it be assumed that 
use of these names means specific hosts, companies or individuals are 
vulnerable to any attacks nor does it mean that they consent to being used 
in any vulnerability tests. The use of information in this report is 
entirely at user's risk.

Revision History

August 18, 2011: Initial release


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