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One-Click GNOME Exploit Could Pose Serious Threat to Linux Systems

A one-click exploit targeting the Libcue component of the GNOME desktop environment could pose a serious threat to Linux systems.

GitHub’s Security Lab has warned Linux users about a serious remote code execution vulnerability affecting a component of the popular GNOME desktop environment.

The flaw was found in Libcue, a library designed for parsing ‘cue’ files, which describe how the tracks on a CD are laid out. Libcue is used by a search engine called Tracker Miners, which in turn is used by GNOME to index files in the home directory to make searches more efficient. 

GitHub Security Lab researcher Kevin Backhouse discovered that Libcue is affected by a vulnerability — tracked as CVE-2023-43641 — that can be exploited for remote code execution by getting the targeted user to click on a malicious link. 

Backhouse has made available a video showing how an attacker could exploit the vulnerability to launch the calculator on a Linux system by getting the targeted user to click on a link that triggers a cue file download. When the attacker’s file is saved on the victim’s device, it’s automatically scanned by Tracker Miners and processed using the Libcue library, which triggers the exploit and executes the attacker’s code.

Backhouse has made public technical details, but said the weaponized proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit for CVE-2023-43641 will not be released until users have had the chance to install the patch. 

The exploit has been tested against Ubuntu and Fedora, but the researcher believes all distributions running GNOME could be vulnerable. However, he noted that the exploit requires some tweaking for each distribution. 

A simple version of the PoC, which causes a benign crash, has been made public to allow users to check whether their system is vulnerable to attacks exploiting CVE-2023-43641.

“Sometimes a vulnerability in a seemingly innocuous library can have a large impact. Due to the way that it’s used by tracker-miners, this vulnerability in libcue became a 1-click RCE. If you use GNOME, please update today!” Backhouse said.

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Related: Severe Glibc Privilege Escalation Vulnerability Impacts Major Linux Distributions

Related: StackRot Linux Kernel Vulnerability Shows Exploitability of UAFBR Bugs

Related: In Other News: Hacking Encrypted Linux Computers, Android Fuzzing, Skype Leaking IPs

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing 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.

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