CERT Advisory CA-2002-02 Buffer Overflow in AOL ICQ

From: CERT Advisory (cert-advisory@cert.org)
Date: 01/24/02

Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 14:51:47 -0500 (EST)
From: CERT Advisory <cert-advisory@cert.org>
To: cert-advisory@cert.org


CERT Advisory CA-2002-02 Buffer Overflow in AOL ICQ

   Original release date: January 24, 2002
   Last revised: --
   Source: CERT/CC

   A complete revision history can be found at the end of this file.

Systems Affected

     * AOL Mirabilis ICQ Versions 2001A and prior
     * Voice Video & Games plugin installed with AOL Mirabilis ICQ
       Versions 2001B Beta v5.18 Build #3659 and prior


   There is a remotely exploitable buffer overflow in ICQ. Attackers that
   are able to exploit the vulnerability may be able to execute arbitrary
   code with the privileges of the victim user. Full details are
   discussed in VU#570167. An exploit is known to exist, but we do not
   believe it has been distributed in the wild. We have not seen active
   scanning for this vulnerability, nor have we received any reports of
   this vulnerability being exploited.

I. Description

   ICQ is a program for communicating with other users over the Internet.
   ICQ is widely used (by over 122 million people according to ICQ Inc,
   an AOL Time Warner owned subsidiary). A buffer overflow exists in the
   ICQ client for Windows. The buffer overflow occurs during the
   processing of a Voice Video & Games feature request message. This
   message is supposed to be a request from another ICQ user inviting the
   victim to participate interactively with a third-party application. In
   versions prior to 2001B, the buffer overflow occurs in code within the
   ICQ client. In version 2001B the code containing the buffer overflow
   was moved to an external plug-in.

   Therefore, all versions prior to the latest build of 2001B are
   vulnerable. Upon connection to an AOL ICQ server, vulnerable builds of
   the 2001B client will be instructed by the server to disable the
   vulnerable plug-in. Since versions of the ICQ client prior to 2001B do
   not have an external plug-in to disable, they are vulnerable even
   after connecting to the server. AOL Time Warner is recommending all
   users of vulnerable versions of ICQ upgrade to 2001B Beta v5.18 Build

   During normal operation, ICQ clients can exchange messages with one
   another through the ICQ servers or via a direct connection. The buffer
   overflow specifically occurs during the processing of the Voice Video
   & Games request via a Type, Length, Value (TLV) tuple with type 0x2711
   from the ICQ server, or via a crafted direct connection request.

   Some versions of the ICQ client open port 4000/UDP for client-server
   communication. Other versions open port 5190/TCP for this
   communication. As with the previously reported AIM vulnerability, AOL
   has modified the ICQ server infrastructure to filter malicious
   messages that attempt to exploit this vulnerability, preventing it
   from being exploited through an AOL ICQ server. Exploiting the
   vulnerability through other means (man-in-the-middle attacks,
   third-party ICQ servers, DNS spoofing, network sniffing, etc.) may
   still be possible. Also, since UDP packets can be broadcast on a
   network, a malicious TLV packet with a spoofed source IP address may
   be accepted as a legitimate server message.

   The ICQ client also listens on a variably assigned TCP port for direct
   connection requests. A person who wishes to establish a direct
   connection can query an ICQ server for the IP address and listening
   port of the victim. Versions 2000A and prior accept direct connections
   from anyone by default. Later versions of ICQ can be configured to
   accept direct connections from anyone. Since ICQ requests can be sent
   directly from one client to another, blocking requests through a
   central server is not a completely effective solution. The effective
   solution is to apply a patch, when available, that fixes the buffer
   overflow, or upgrade to 2001B Beta v5.18 Build #3659 with the Voice
   Video & Games feature disabled.

   This vulnerability has been assigned the identifier CAN-2002-0028 by
   the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) group:


II. Impact

   An attacker can execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the
   victim user.

III. Solution

   All users should upgrade to version 2001B Beta v5.18 Build #3659.
   There is currently no patch available for the ICQ plug-in for 2001B or
   versions of the ICQ client prior to 2001B. Version 2001B Beta v5.18
   Build #3659's installer will delete the vulnerable plug-in. In
   addition, for users who log in to the server with versions of 2001B
   prior to Beta v5.18 Build #3659, access to the vulnerable plug-in will
   be disabled. Users with versions prior to 2001B must upgrade to
   mitigate this vulnerability.

Block ICQ/SMS requests at the firewall

   Blocking connections to login.icq.com and access to ports 4000/UDP,
   5190/TCP and the TCP port that your client chooses to listen on may
   prevent exploitation of this vulnerability. Note that the client may
   establish a new listening port each time it is run. Note also that
   this does not protect you from attacks within the perimeter of your

Block untrusted messages

   ICQ permits the user to deny direct connections from anyone without
   authorization or accept direct connections from known peers only. We
   recommend denying direct connections from anyone without
   authorization. By accepting direct connections from known peers, you
   may still be vulnerable to attacks that originate from known peers if
   the peer has been compromised.

Appendix A. - Vendor Information

   This appendix contains information provided by vendors for this
   advisory. When vendors report new information to the CERT/CC, we
   update this section and note the changes in our revision history. If a
   particular vendor is not listed below, we have not received their

   AOL Time Warner

     See http://web.icq.com/help/quickhelp/1,,117,00.html

   The CERT Coordination Center thanks Daniel Tan and AOL Time Warner for
   their assistance in discovering and analyzing this vulnerability.

   Author: Jason A. Rafail

Appendix B. - References

    1. http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/570167
    2. http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/3813
    3. http://web.icq.com/help/quickhelp/1,,117,00.html

   This document is available from:

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   Revision History
   January 24, 2002: Initial release

Version: PGP 6.5.8


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