WinRAR patches security vulnerability after 19 years

By Vignesh Giridharan | Updated 22 Feb 2019
WinRAR patches security vulnerability after 19 years
  • Another case of too little, too late?

Highlights:

  • WinRAR patches a 19-year-old security vulnerability.
  • The vulnerability was discovered by Check Point Software Technologies.
  • The vulnerability can potentially let attackers extract malicious software to any folder in the system.

 

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WinRAR, the popular Windows-exclusive file archival tool, has been around for over two decades now. A security vulnerability that’s nearly as old as the application itself was discovered by researchers at Check Point Software Technologies a couple of days ago. The researchers published their findings in a blog post along with a response they got from WinRAR. The vulnerability that allowed attackers to extract malicious software anywhere on the hard drive has been patched.

The pundits at Check Point Software Technologies outline the potential risks of the vulnerability and steps to recreate it in their lengthy blog post. The short version is that the vulnerability basically allowed WinRAR users to extract a malicious program to any folder in the system including Windows’ Startup folder simply by changing the extension of the file from .ACE to .RAR. A malicious program that runs when Windows boots up could potentially cause irreparable damage to the system.

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“Aforementioned vulnerability makes possible to create files in arbitrary folders inside or outside of destination folder when unpacking ACE archives”, responded WinRAR on its website. “WinRAR used this third party library to unpack ACE archives. UNACEV2.DLL had not been updated since 2005 and we do not have access to its source code. So we decided to drop ACE archive format support to protect security of WinRAR users. We are thankful to Check Point Software Technologies for reporting  this issue.”

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This is not the first time a security vulnerability like this has gone unnoticed and unpatched for long periods of time. A zero-day vulnerability capable of letting an exploit delete system files was discovered in Windows 10 by security researcher SandboxEscaper in October last year. More recently, an Indian security researcher found a Windows vulnerability that allowed hackers to take control of over 400 million Microsoft Store, Outlook, and Sway accounts.

 

Related Read:

New file-deleting Windows zero-day vulnerability unearthed

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Indian security researcher finds Microsoft vulnerability affecting 400 million users

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Vignesh Giridharan
Progressively identifies with the term 'legacy device' as time marches on.
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