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Security Analysis Leads to Discovery of Vulnerabilities in 18 Electron Applications

A team of researchers from various companies has analyzed Electron-based desktop applications and ended up discovering vulnerabilities in several widely used pieces of software.

A team of researchers from various companies has analyzed Electron-based desktop applications and ended up discovering vulnerabilities in several widely used pieces of software.

Electron is a free and open source framework for developing cross-platform desktop applications. It has been used to build some very popular applications, including Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, and Slack.

The research project targeting Electron apps has been dubbed ElectroVolt and the findings were presented last week at the Black Hat conference.

Mohan Sri Rama Krishna Pedhapati, a security consultant at Cure53 and one of the researchers involved in the project, told SecurityWeek that they have identified vulnerabilities in 18 applications. Impacted vendors have been informed and they all released patches.

Security holes have been found in Microsoft Teams, Discord, Visual Studio Code, Basecamp, Mattermost, Element, Notion, JupyterLab, and Rocket.Chat, among others.

Nearly all of the exploits, many of which involve chaining several flaws, can lead to remote code execution on the targeted system. In Microsoft Teams, the white hat hackers found a local file read issue.

In many cases, minimal user interaction is required to trigger the exploits, such as clicking on a link or simply accessing a certain section of the application. The researchers said an attack is likely to have a high success rate as users will often click on things and open messages in Electron apps.

A majority of the flaws have been rated ‘critical’ and the researchers earned a total of approximately $60,000 for disclosing them to their respective vendors.

In addition to detailing their findings at Black Hat, the researchers published individual blog posts describing some of the Electrovolt vulnerabilities. Proof-of-concept (PoC) code and videos showing some of the exploits in action are also available.

Related: Code Execution Flaw in Electron Framework Could Affect Many Apps

Related: Windows URI Handling Flaw Leads to Drive-by Code Execution

Related: Vulnerability in WhatsApp Desktop Exposed User Files

Written By

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.

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