CVE-2023-41179- Critical ACE Vulnerability in Trend Micro Products Requires Immediate Action

On 19th, September 2023, a critical vulnerability designated CVE-2023-41179 was recently disclosed in Trend Micro’s flagship endpoint security solutions Apex One and Worry-Free Business Security. This critical flaw is an arbitrary code execution vulnerability located in a third-party antivirus uninstaller module bundled with the products.

With a severity score of 9.1 out of 10 on the CVSS scale, CVE-2023-41179 allows attackers to remotely execute malicious code and commands on affected systems. Successful exploitation grants elevated system-level privileges to compromise vulnerable servers and endpoints completely.

Even more concerning, Trend Micro has confirmed active exploitation of this vulnerability in the wild. Threat actors are already weaponizing CVE-2023-41179 to target organizations that have not yet patched the flaw.

In this blog post, will provide in-depth analysis of CVE-2023-41179, outline affected Trend Micro versions, discuss remediation, and offer actionable recommendations to mitigate exposure to this critical arbitrary remote code execution flaw being actively leveraged by attackers currently.

A Short Introduction of Trend Micro Apex One and Worry-Free Business Security

Trend Micro offers comprehensive endpoint and network security platforms to help organizations protect against malware, ransomware, fileless attacks, and other threats. Two of their most popular products are Apex One and Worry-Free Business Security.

Apex One

Apex One is Trend Micro’s enterprise-grade endpoint security solution designed for large businesses and government agencies. It combines multiple capabilities into a single lightweight agent for cross-platform protection.

Key features of Apex One include:

  • Anti-malware – Uses signature-less pattern file reputation, behavioral analysis, variant protection, and other techniques to block viruses, spyware, ransomware, and fileless attacks.
  • Host intrusion prevention – Detects and prevents malicious network activity and abuse of legitimate tools like PowerShell.
  • Exploit prevention – Mitigates vulnerabilities in apps and OS like buffer overflows before they can be exploited.
  • Application control – Locks down endpoints by whitelisting allowed apps and blocking all others.
  • Data protection – Encrypts sensitive data at rest and in motion, controls USB devices, and prevents data loss.
  • Centralized management – Cloud-based console for visibility and control across all endpoints and servers from a single pane of glass.
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Worry-Free Business Security

Worry-Free Business Security is designed for small and midsize businesses with limited security staff and budgets. It brings enterprise-grade capabilities in an easy-to-use solution tailored for smaller organizations.

Key capabilities include antivirus, web security, email security, endpoint encryption, mobile device protection, virtualization security, and centralized monitoring/management.

Worry-Free Business Security provides comprehensive threat protection across Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and virtual desktops environments from one intuitive web-based console. It can scale to support tens of thousands of endpoints.

With either Apex One or Worry-Free Business Security, organizations gain robust defenses against a wide range of modern cyber attacks and threats targeting endpoints and networks.

Understanding CVE-2023-41179

CVE-2023-41179 poses a serious risk of complete system compromise if successfully exploited by attackers. Let’s understand the technical details and potential impact of this critical vulnerability:

  • CVE Identifier: CVE-2023-41179
  • Description: Arbitrary Code Execution Vulnerability in Trend Micro Products
  • CVSS Score: 9.1 (Critical)
  • Vector: AV:N/AC:L/PR:H/UI:N/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H

Technical Details

As per the research team, the vulnerability exists in a third-party antivirus uninstaller module that comes bundled with Trend Micro’s Apex One and Worry-Free Business Security products.

By exploiting a flaw in this module, an attacker can manipulate it to execute arbitrary malicious commands and code on the affected system. This grants the same high-level permissions as the antivirus service itself.

However, the attacker needs to have administrative access to the product’s management console to exploit this flaw. It cannot be exploited remotely without the admin console access as a prerequisite.

Impact

Once compromised through prior admin access, the flaw allows complete takeover of the affected server or endpoint.

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Since the uninstaller module executes code at the antivirus service level, the attacker gains the same system privileges as the AV software. This permits running any payload such as:

  • Downloading additional malware
  • Installing backdoors
  • Stealing sensitive data stored on the system
  • Moving laterally to other connected systems

The attacker can essentially do anything he want on the compromised machine. This includes stealing credentials, emails, files and other valuable data assets.

Trend Micro Products Vulnerable to CVE-2023-41179

According to Trend Micro’s security bulletin, the following endpoint security products are affected by CVE-2023-41179:

Product Affected Version(s) Platform Language(s)
Apex One 2019 (On-prem) Windows English
Apex One as a Service SaaS Windows English
Worry-Free Business Security (WFBS) 10.0 SP1 Windows English
Worry-Free Business Security Services (WFBSS) SaaS Windows English

Trend Micro has released fixes for this vulnerability through security patches for the affected on-premise versions and signature/engine updates for the cloud-hosted versions.

The patched releases as recommended by Trend Micro are:

Product Updated Version* Notes Platform Availability
Apex One SP1 Patch 1 (B12380) Readme Windows Now Available
Apex One as a Service July 2023 Monthly Patch (202307)Agent Version:  14.0.12637 Readme Windows Now Available
WFBS 10.0 SP1 Patch 2495 Readme Windows Now Available
WFBSS July 31, 2023Monthly Maintenance ReleaseAgent Version: 6.7.3578 / 14.3.1105 Windows Now Available

Customers are strongly advised to deploy these updated versions immediately to mitigate the risks from CVE-2023-41179 attacks.

For those who cannot patch immediately, Trend Micro suggests limiting access to product consoles as a temporary workaround. General security best practices like reviewing remote access policies and perimeter controls also help reduce exposure.

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The fixes for this critical arbitrary code execution (ACE) vulnerability were developed by Trend Micro’s internal security researchers after receiving vulnerability reports from independent research.

Action Items for Trend Micro Product Owners

Organizations using vulnerable Trend Micro software should take these steps immediately:

  • Test and deploy patches/hotfixes as soon as possible.
  • Restrict remote access and limit admin console logins.
  • Review all remote access policies and shore up perimeter defenses.
  • Download patches from the Trend Micro Download Center.
  • Monitor Trend Micro security bulletins for updates.
  • Consider disabling the vulnerable third-party component if your business allows.

With confirmed active attacks in the wild, CVE-2023-41179 represents an extremely serious vulnerability that can lead to complete system compromise. Trend Micro customers using affected Apex One, Worry-Free Business Security, and other impacted endpoint solutions must immediately prioritize patching this critical arbitrary remote code execution defect.

 

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