Reporter Stefan Kanthak
the executable installers [°] of Google Chrome are vulnerable:
1. ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe and ChromeSetup.exe load and execute
a rogue/bogus/malicious CryptBase.dll (under Windows NT6.x)
from their "application directory" ['].
For software downloaded with a web browser this is typically the
"Downloads" directory: see
If CryptBase.dll gets planted in the "Downloads" directory per
"drive-by download" this vulnerability becomes a remote code
2. Their "final" executable installer setup.exe loads and executes
the rogue/bogus/malicious RichEd20.dll, ClbCatQ.dll and XPSP2Res.dll
(both only under NT5.x, not under NT6.x) and SetupAPI.dll (the
latter only under NT6.x, not under NT5.x) from its "application
directory" ['] %TEMP%\CR_<random>.tmp\
XPSP2Res.dll is not present in Windows Vista and newer versions
where it is loaded from the DLL search path.
Since setup.exe is typically run with administrative (or SYSTEM)
privileges this results in an escalation of privilege.
%TEMP%\CR_<random>.tmp\setup.exe as well as
%TEMP%\CR_<random>.tmp\CHROME.PACKED.7Z are extracted to this
unsafe temporary directory [²] by Chrome's installer^Wself-
extractor 46.0.2490.86_chrome_installer.exe (at the time of
The current self-extractor is downloaded and run from Google's
The Google Updater is installed during the first run of
ChromeSetup.exe, Chrome's online installer stub, available via
3. Bonus point: on Windows XP with Internet Explorer 6 installed
setup.exe loads and executes IEFrame.dll (which is not present
before Internet Explorer 7) from the DLL search path.
Proof of concept/demonstration:
1. visit <http://home.arcor.de/skanthak/sentinel.html>, download
<http://home.arcor.de/skanthak/download/SENTINEL.DLL> and save
it as CryptBase.dll in your "Downloads" directory;
2. download ChromeSetup.exe and/or ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe
and save it in your "Downloads" directory;
3. execute ChromeSetup.exe and/or ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe
from your "Downloads" directory;
4. notice the message boxes displayed from CryptBase.dll placed in
0. DON'T USE EXECUTABLE INSTALLERS [°]!
If your favourite applications are not distributed in the native
installer package format of the resp. target platform: ask^WURGE
their vendors/developers to provide native installation packages.
If they don't: dump these applications, stay away from such cruft!
1. Turn off UAC's privilege elevation for standard users and installer
detection for all users:
"ConsentPromptBehaviorUser"=dword:00000000 ; Automatically deny elevation requests
2. NEVER execute files in UNSAFE directories (like "Downloads" and
3. Deny execution (at least) in the "Downloads" directories and all
"%TEMP%" directories and their subdirectories:
* Add the NTFS ACE "(D;OIIO;WP;;;WD)" meaning "deny execution of
files in this directory for everyone, inheritable to all files
in all subdirectories" (use CACLS.EXE /S:<SDDL> for example);
* Use "software restriction policies" resp. AppLocker.
Consider to apply either/both to every "%USERPROFILE%" as well as
"%ALLUSERSPROFILE%" alias %ProgramData%" and "%PUBLIC%": Windows
doesn't place executables in these directories and beyond.
See <http://home.arcor.de/skanthak/safer.html> as well as
or <https://books.google.de/books?isbn=1437914926> and finally
PS: see <http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2015/Nov/101> (resp. the
not yet finished <http://home.arcor.de/skanthak/!execute.html>)
for more details!
PPS: the case numbers are not in chronological order.
[°] Self-extracting archives and executable installers are flawed^W
b(rainde)ad in concept and dangerous in practice.
DON'T USE SUCH CRUFT!
ALWAYS use the resp. target platforms native package and archive
For Windows these are .INF (plus .CAB) and .MSI (plus .CAB),
introduced 20 years ago (with Windows 95 and Windows NT4) resp.
16 years ago (with Office 2000).
Both .INF and .MSI are "opened" by programs residing in
%SystemRoot%\System32\ which are therefore immune to this kind
of "DLL and EXE Search Order Hijacking" attack.
Since both .INF and .MSI access the contents of .CAB directly
they eliminate the attack vector "unsafe temporary directory"
['] A well-known (trivial, easy to exploit and easy to avoid) and
well-documented vulnerability: see
[²] Another well-known (trivial, easy to exploit and easy to avoid)
and well-documented vulnerability: see
2015-11-20 vulnerability report sent to Google Security
2015-11-20 receipt of report acknowledged
2015-11-27 vulnerability report resent to Chromium
"we don't care for physically-local attacks"
2015-12-01 reality check, PLEASE!
NO ANSWER, not even an acknowledgement of receipt
2015-12-09 report published