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June 4th, 2008

HP Instant Support ActiveX Control Multiple Vulnerabilities

A customer support application that comes bundled with HP PCs have been found to contain multiple security vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities have been reported by Dennis Rand from CSIS (Security Research and Intelligence Security) in HP Instant Support 1.x, which potentially can be exploited by malicious people to bypass certain security restrictions and compromise a user’s system.

The pre-installed software is designed to make it easy for users to keep drivers and HP software automatically updated. Flaws in ActiveX components within HP Instant Support give rise to multiple vulnerabilities that lend themselves to drive-by download malware attacks in cases where Windows users running the vulnerable software stray onto insecure or hacker controlled websites, the CSIS Group warns.

Some vulnerabilities are caused due to boundary errors within the “ExtractCab()”, “GetFileTime()”, “MoveFile()”, and “RegistryString()” methods of HPISDataManager.dll. These can be exploited to cause a buffer overflow via an overly long string passed to the affected methods when a user e.g. visits a malicious web page. The HPISDataManager.dll ActiveX also contains insecure methods “AppendStringToFile()”, “DownloadFile()”, “StartApp()”, and “DeleteSingleFile()”, which can be exploited to e.g. overwrite, delete, and execute arbitrary files on a user’s system and download files into the location of the ActiveX component by tricking a user into visiting a malicious web page. HP Instant Support HPISDataManager.dll version and earlier are vulnerable.

A CSIS advisory containing proof of concept demos of the flaws can be found at

In December last year two ActiveX bugs created a mechanism for hackers to either thrash or inject hostile code onto HP PCs running either HP Software Update or HP Info Center, so this is not the first trouble HP has had with rogue ActiveX controls in its pre-installed utilities.

Users need to upgrade to version as explained in a security bulletin from HP.

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