Beginners error: Apple's Software Update runs rogue program C:\Program.exe (and some more) Aug 16 2014 05:58PM
Stefan Kanthak (stefan kanthak nexgo de)
Hi @ll,

"C:\Program Files\Apple Software Update\SoftwareUpdate.exe", part
of Apple's Software Update and installed together with iTunes,
QuickTime and other of Apple's crap for Windows, is periodically
called with the argument "-task".

This invokes the COM server {91A9E6A9-3935-4A37-AFBA-F0904B166364}
alias AppleSoftwareUpdate.ASUInstallhost, implemented in the DLL
C:\Program Files\Apple Software Update\SoftwareUpdateAdmin.Dll

This COM server runs with administrative rights and executes the
command line

C:\Program Files\Apple Software Update\SoftwareUpdate.exe -background

without properly quoted pathname, resulting in the execution of one
of the rogue programs "C:\Program.exe", "C:\Program Files\Apple.exe"
or "C:\Program Files\Apple Software.exe" (on x86) resp. "C:\Program.exe",
"C:\Program Files.exe", "C:\Program Files (x86)\Apple.exe" or
"C:\Program Files\Apple Software.exe" (on x64) with administrative

From <http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/cc144175.aspx>
or <http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/cc144101.aspx>:

| Note: If any element of the command string contains or might contain
| spaces, it must be enclosed in quotation marks. Otherwise, if the
| element contains a space, it will not parse correctly. For instance,
| "My Program.exe" starts the application properly. If you use
| My Program.exe without quotation marks, then the system attempts to
| launch My with Program.exe as its first command line argument.

Since every user account created during Windows setup has administrative
rights every user owning such an account can create the rogue program(s),
resulting in a privilege escalation.

JFTR: no, the "user account control" is not a security boundary!

From <http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2526083>:

| Same-desktop Elevation in UAC is not a security boundary and can be hijacked
| by unprivileged software that runs on the same desktop. Same-desktop
| Elevation should be considered a convenience feature, and from a security
| perspective, "Protected Administrator" should be considered the equivalent
| of "Administrator."

Stefan Kanthak

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