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A Highly Vulnerable Google Chrome?

Three strikes already for this web browser in 2022

By Felipe Ruiz | April 20, 2022 | Category: Attacks

Are you sure you're using the latest version of Google Chrome? Make sure you are. So far this year, Chrome has received three strikes. Cybercriminals have exploited at least three zero-day vulnerabilities in this famed web browser.

First strike: CVE-2022-0609

Barely beginning this year, a couple of North Korean hacking groups were already exploiting a Google Chrome zero-day vulnerability. A little over a month later, on February 10, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) discovered it and, within days, managed to patch this high-severity bug: CVE-2022-0609. (CVSS 3.1 base score: 8.8.) Apparently, the cybercriminals were associated with the notorious and powerful North Korean criminal gang Lazarus. As reported by the researchers, these attackers used the same exploit kit, since they had a shared supply chain, but with different targets and techniques.

One group (its activity is tracked as Operation Dream Job) targeted about ten news media and IT companies. Approximately 250 people from these firms received emails with sham job opportunities sent from Oracle, Google and Disney. These emails contained links spoofing genuine recruiting websites. Once the person clicked on it, they received a hidden iframe that activated the exploit kit. The other group (its activity is tracked as Operation AppleJeus) targeted more than 85 users in cryptocurrency and fintech companies. According to the late March report, at least two websites were compromised, hosting hidden iframes to deliver the exploit kit to visitors. There were also fake websites directing visitors to the same kit.

This exploit kit served a highly obfuscated JavaScript to fingerprint the victim's system. It then collected data such as user-agent and resolution and sent it to the exploit server. If a certain number of unknown requirements were met, the user received a Chrome remote code execution (RCE) exploit along with additional JavaScript. Then, if the RCE was successful, the JavaScript requested a new phase called SBX, an acronym for Sandbox Escape. In these cases, the "attacker can execute malicious code from a sandbox outside of an environment, forcing the device to run the code within it."

In response to this first strike, Google updated its Stable channel to 98.0.4758.102 for Windows, Mac and Linux. Additionally, they included all identified websites and domains in their free Safe Browsing service "to protect users from further exploitation."

Second strike: CVE-2022-1096

The news of the previous strike was still fresh when Google reported an urgent update due to a second zero-day vulnerability in Chrome. They were informed by an anonymous party about this bug (CVE-2022-1096) on March 23. In the release update, only about two days later, they admitted being aware of the existence of an exploit in the wild (i.e., widely published) for this "high" severity vulnerability. (There's yet no official CVSS score for this vulnerability.) But additional information was kept by them to a minimum. At this time, unlike in the previous case, there is no dedicated post on Google's TAG's official blog. As they pointed out, "Access to bug details and links may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix."

Based on their report and what we've seen on the web, we know this is a type-confusion vulnerability in the Chrome V8 JavaScript and WebAssembly engine. In this bug, pieces of software code in the middle of data execution operations do not verify the types of inputs they receive and may incorrectly process them as other types. Threat actors can take advantage of the software's subsequent logical errors to execute malicious code on victims' systems.

The affected engine, V8, is an open-source component for processing JavaScript and WebAssembly code that Chrome and Chromium-based web browsers use. The latter include, for example, Microsoft Edge, Samsung Internet, Opera and Vivaldi. (Microsoft also informed its users about this vulnerability and the new version of Edge promptly). So here we prefer to extend our initial warning: Make sure you have any of your web browsers up to date. It's worth noting that 16 zero-day vulnerabilities were detected in Chrome in 2021. Eight of these were also present in V8. And three of them, like the one described in this segment, were type-confusion vulnerabilities: CVE-2021-21224, CVE-2021-30551 and CVE-2021-30563.

In response to this second strike, Google updated its Stable channel to 99.0.4844.84 for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Third strike: CVE-2022-1364

April brought more confusion. On the 13th, Google's TAG reported another "high" severity type-confusion vulnerability in V8: CVE-2022-1346. (There's yet no official CVSS score for this vulnerability either.) The patch was available for all 3.2 billion Chrome users the next day. However, Google again warned about the exploit's existence in the wild. Was this another hacking onslaught orchestrated by North Koreans? As in the previous case, we have to wait for a majority of users to update the web browser to get more details about this vulnerability.

In response to this third strike, Google updated its Stable channel to 100.0.4896.127 for Windows, Mac and Linux. (Read about Microsoft Edge's new version here.) If you want to check that your Chrome is updated, open a new browser window and go to the top right corner. Click on the three dots to open the drop-down menu and select the Settings option. Then, click the About Chrome option at the bottom of the menu on the left. Verify that you see the message "Chrome is up to date" and that the version number matches the one we give you here.

Settings - About Chrome

Already three strikes were received by Google Chrome in 2022. Could we now determine a strikeout? Not in this game. It's enough to look back at the history of this software to say that they are likely to receive more strikes this year. Maybe this latest version we presented you here will be obsolete in a few days. So stay tuned for updates!

At Fluid Attacks, we are on the lookout for these and many, many other security vulnerabilities that may affect our clients. Thanks to our Continuous Hacking service, with our highly certified red team, you can enhance your vulnerability management program and prevent your organization from receiving highly harmful impacts from cyberattacks. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

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