September 27, 2016 By Larry Loeb 2 min read

The OpenSSL project has been scrambling to get a badly needed patch out the door. OpenSSL, the cryptographic library used in many servers, released versions 1.1.0a, 1.0.2i and 1.0.1u on Sept. 22 to address more than a dozen security holes that had been affecting the software.

OpenSSL Patch Creates New Problems

The most serious vulnerability addressed in these releases, SecurityWeek reported, is CVE-2016-6304. This vulnerability can be exploited to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks by sending an excessively large OCSP status request extension to the targeted server.

The OpenSSL patch also addressed excessive memory allocation in a header. This low-severity vulnerability (CVE-2016-6307) can only be exploited if certain specific conditions are met. However, OpenSSL fixed this problem with version 1.1.0a — or so it thought.

Patches Upon Patches

OpenSSL issued an advisory on Sept. 26 to address problems caused by the aforementioned updates.

Version 1.1.0a introduced a new, critical vulnerability that could lead to a crash or execution of arbitrary code. OpenSSL explained that this occurs when the server receives a message that exceeds 16k, resulting in the relocation and reallocation of the underlying buffer to store the incoming message.

“Unfortunately,” the advisory read, “a dangling pointer to the old location is left, which results in an attempt to write to the previously freed location.”

OpenSSL fixed the issue with version 1.1.0b.

Sanity Check

OpenSSL also dropped a sanity check in the first release. A bug fix including a CRL sanity check was added to OpenSSL 1.1.0. However, the code didn’t make it into OpenSSL 1.0.2i. This means any attempt to use CRLs in version 1.0.2i will crash with a null pointer exception. OpenSSL 1.0.2i users should upgrade to 1.0.2j.

In some respects, the agility with which OpenSSL identified and fixed these vulnerabilities is commendable. The project recognized the problem and quickly issued an advisory to rectify it.

Considering the unintended consequences of the Sept. 22 release, however, one can only hope OpenSSL found time to conduct the necessary testing for this batch of new software.

More from

What is the Open-Source Software Security Initiative (OS3I)?

3 min read - The Open-Source Software Security Initiative (OS3I) recently released Securing the Open-Source Software Ecosystem report, which details the members’ current priorities and recommended cybersecurity solutions. The accompanying fact sheet also provides the highlights of the report. The OS3I includes both federal departments and agencies working together to deliver policy solutions to secure and defend the ecosystem. The new initiative is part of the overall National Cybersecurity Strategy.After the Log4Shell vulnerability in 2021, the Biden-Harris administration committed to improving the security of…

Widespread exploitation of recently disclosed Ivanti vulnerabilities

6 min read - IBM X-Force has assisted several organizations in responding to successful compromises involving the Ivanti appliance vulnerabilities disclosed in January 2024. Analysis of these incidents has identified several Ivanti file modifications that align with current public reporting. Additionally, IBM researchers have observed specific attack techniques involving the theft of authentication token data not readily noted in current public sources. The blog details the results of this research to assist organizations in protecting against these threats. Key Findings: IBM research teams have…

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2024 reveals stolen credentials as top risk, with AI attacks on the horizon

4 min read - Every year, IBM X-Force analysts assess the data collected across all our security disciplines to create the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, our annual report that plots changes in the cyber threat landscape to reveal trends and help clients proactively put security measures in place. Among the many noteworthy findings in the 2024 edition of the X-Force report, three major trends stand out that we’re advising security professionals and CISOs to observe: A sharp increase in abuse of valid accounts…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today