Security Experts:

Display Software Flaw Affects Millions of Devices

A potentially serious vulnerability has been found in third-party software shipped by several major vendors for their displays. The developer has rushed to release a patch for the flaw, which is believed to affect millions of devices worldwide.

The security hole was identified by researchers at SEC Consult in display software developed by Portrait Displays. The impacted product allows users to configure their displays (e.g. rotation, alignment, colors and brightness) via a software application instead of hardware buttons.

Portrait Displays’ products are used by several major vendors, including Sony, HP, Acer, Fujitsu, Philips, Dell, Benq, Lenovo, Sharp and Toshiba. However, SEC Consult could only confirm the vulnerability for Fujitsu’s DisplayView, HP’s Display Assistant and My Display, and Philips’ SmartControl applications. The apps, which are pre-installed on millions of devices, have been classified by the security firm as bloatware.

According to researchers, the vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2017-3210, exists in the Portrait Displays SDK service and it allows any authenticated attacker to execute arbitrary commands and escalate their privileges to SYSTEM.

SEC Consult said a hacker can exploit the flaw -- by changing the service’s binary path -- for various tasks, including to create new users, add users to groups, or change privileges.

Portrait Displays, which has classified the vulnerability as critical, has released a patch and advised users to install it immediately. The company says it’s not aware of any attacks where this flaw may have been exploited, but a “comprehensive review” is being conducted to confirm this.

As an alternative, users can address the problem by removing the vulnerable service’s permissions via the “sc” command in Windows. CERT/CC has also released an advisory for this security hole.

While a patch has been made available, SEC Consult told SecurityWeek that it’s unlikely regular users will install it any time soon, especially since many will not even know they are affected. On the other hand, experts believe affected vendors could push the patch to users via their automatic software installers (e.g. Fujitsu DeskUpdate).

“It is quite juicy to observe that companies selling millions of notebooks, PCs and convertibles simply do not care (enough) about security,” SEC Consult’s Werner Schober said in a blog post. “The affected companies do have a net worth of multiple billions, but they do not have a few thousand euros/dollars/yen to conduct a proper security review on the software and services they are acquiring from 3rd parties. This vulnerability would have been identified immediately in a thorough security review of the application/service if an audit would have been conducted by security experts before shipping devices with this software. Even automated vulnerability scans would detect such weak service permissions.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.