Researcher Warns 100,000 Devices Still Vulnerable to SMBGhost Attacks

Over 100,000 computers remain affected by the Windows vulnerability known as SMBGhost, more than half a year after a patch was rolled out, new research reveals.

Tracked as CVE-2020-0796 and featuring a CVSS score of 10, the critical vulnerability was addressed in March 2020 via an out-of-band update. Weeks later, information on how it can be abused to escalate privileges and cause a denial of service condition was made public.

Proof-of-concept (PoC) code for remote code execution (RCE) through SMBGhost was published on the Internet a couple of months later and attacks leveraging the flaw were observed soon after. Despite that, however, patching efforts appear to have slowed down to a halt.

According to Jan Kopriva, a team leader of ALEFs Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) and SANS ISC contributor, despite the attention the vulnerability received when first disclosed and the public availability of PoCs for exploiting it, Shodan searches show upwards of 100,000 systems still vulnerable.

Shodan, he explains, can be used to discover systems that are affected by a specific vulnerability, although the exact manner in which the search engine determines whether a machine is vulnerable to SMBGhost attacks is unclear.

“But if its detection mechanism is accurate, it would appear that there are still over 103 000 affected machines accessible from the internet. This would mean that a vulnerable machine hides behind approximately 8% of all IPs, which have port 445 open,” the researcher says.

Data gathered from Shodan over the past eight months shows that, although the patching efforts appeared to have intensified a couple of months ago, the number of affected devices remains high, nearly flat compared to half a year ago.

The researcher also discovered that Taiwan appears to be the most affected country, followed by Japan, Russia, the United States, and India and Brazil.

“It is hard to say why are so many unpatched machines are still out there. Microsoft did release the patch for CVE-2020-0796 out-of-band instead as a part of its usual patch Tuesday pack of fixes, but that was the only unusual thing about it and doesn’t make much sense that this would be the reason why it still isn’t applied on so many systems,” the researcher notes.

Kopriva also points out that, provided that Shodan is an accurate tool, the large number of vulnerable machines out there is concerning, given that SMBGhost is “wormable” and allows for code execution.

Related: SMBGhost Vulnerability Allows Privilege Escalation on Windows Systems

Related: SMBGhost Attacks Spotted Following Release of Code Execution PoC

Related: Researchers Divulge Details on Five Windows Zero Days

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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