Researchers at SafeBreach, a company that specializes in simulating breaches and attacks, discovered this summer that HP’s Touchpoint Analytics service is affected by a potentially serious vulnerability.
HP Touchpoint Analytics is shipped with many HP laptop and desktop computers running Windows. The service is designed to collect anonymous diagnostic information on hardware performance and for that it uses an open source tool named Open Hardware Monitor.
According to SafeBreach, when HP Touchpoint Analytics is started, it attempts to load three missing DLL files. A malicious actor with administrative privileges on the targeted system can create malicious DLLs with the names of the missing files and place them in locations where they would get executed when the HP service starts.
An attacker can use this for various purposes, including to escalate privileges to SYSTEM and bypass security mechanisms, such as application whitelisting and signature validation — this is possible due to the fact that the malicious files would be run by a signed service, SafeBreach said.
The company also demonstrated that the Open Hardware Monitor library can be abused to read and write to physical memory.
The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-6333, can be highly valuable to attackers given that the affected HP software is installed on a large number of devices. SafeBreach estimates that tens of millions of computers run HP Touchpoint Analytics or Open Hardware Monitor.
Open Hardware Monitor no longer appears to be maintained. The latest version was released on the official website in November 2016 and the last changes to the code hosted on GitHub were made in January 2018.
The vulnerability was reported to HP in early July and it was patched this month with the release of version 184.108.40.20627. In its own advisory, HP describes it as an arbitrary code execution vulnerability and assigns it a CVSS score of 6.7 (medium severity).
When the presence of Touchpoint Analytics was first discovered on HP devices in 2017, some people raised concerns about the data collected by the service and even described it as a piece of spyware. However, HP clarified at the time that the utility had been around since 2014, it only collects hardware performance data, and the data is not sent to HP servers unless users opt in during setup.
Over the past months, SafeBreach has reported finding similar flaws in software from various vendors, including Dell, Forcepoint, Trend Micro, Bitdefender and Check Point.
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