Hardware Driver and Module Exploitation







Risk Rating:


With operating systems being patched more regularly, often through automatic updates, attackers are turning to easier prey such as weak hardware drivers. In more recent times, a rash of hardware driver exploits have occurred as attackers hit their mark and put hardware manufacturers on notice. This puts Linux drivers in a precarious spot. Many Linux drivers are developed by third parties since many hardware manufacturers tend to not develop Linux drivers for their product. The driver code is open source and available for auditing as well as vulnerability research. While this allows independent programmers to debug the code, it also allows attackers to debug the code and turn bugs into exploits and exploits into remote shells.

Practically speaking, remote shell access is akin to physical access, and if attackers have shell access on a Linux box, they will eventually gain root access through some sort of privilege escalation or other locally exploitable vulnerability.

Of particular interest are any devices capable of network traffic or sending and receiving a signal remotely. However, just about any driver or hardware device can be exploited and provide unintended access to a machine—particularly if attackers are given any kind of shell access, such as a local, unprivileged user account or a remotely accessible user account.

The following are a couple of well-known module vulnerabilities that permit unintended users to gain full control of a system:

CVE Reference Description

CVE-2006-6385 Intel LAN driver buffer overflow local privilege escalation CVE-2006-5379 Buffer overflow in NVIDIA binary graphics driver for Linux

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