Weekly threat roundup: DuckDuckGo, Chrome, Cisco

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Patch management is far easier said than done, and security teams may often be forced into prioritising fixes for several business-critical systems, all released at once. It’s become typical, for example, to expect dozens of patches to be released on Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, with other vendors also routinely getting in on the act.

Below, IT Pro has collated the most pressing disclosures from the last seven days, including details such as a summary of the exploit mechanism, and whether the vulnerability is being exploited in the wild. This is in order to give teams a sense of which bugs and flaws might pose the most dangerous immediate security risks.

DuckDuckGo fixes browser extension flaws

The DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials browser extension, designed to protect the privacy of its users by blocking trackers and offering private browsing features, was embedded with two vulnerabilities.

The bugs present in the Chrome, Firefox and Edge extensions, which have now been patched, included a data leakage flaw as well as a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability.

The first bug centred on insecure channels for some internal communications, according to researcher Wladimir Palant, which could’ve led to data leakage across domain boundaries.

The more serious XSS bug, meanwhile, could’ve been exploited by hackers with access to the DuckDuckGo server to spy on all websites that a victim was visiting, as well as manipulate display information and seize user accounts.

Third Chrome zero-day under attack in 2021

Google has patched five vulnerabilities in its Chrome web browser including a highly-severe flaw in the Chromium Blink browser web engine that hackers have been actively exploiting.

Tracked as CVE-2021-21193, the use-after-free memory bug is the third Chrome flaw to be discovered in recent weeks for which there’s been an exploit circulating online.

Google has patched the flaw alongside five bugs overall, including two further highly-rated vulnerabilities tracked as CVE-2021-21191 and CVE-2021-21192. The first of these is another use-after-free flaw in the WebRTC component, used for audio streaming, while the second is a heap buffer overflow vulnerability present in tab groups.

7 million sites hit by a bug-ridden WordPress plugin

An XSS flaw in the Elementor WordPress plugin, actively installed on more than 7 million websites, may have allowed unauthorised users to access the Elementor editor to take control of targeted sites.

Elementor, which is one of the largest free WordPress site builders, was patched by its developers after the Wordfence security team alerted them to the presence of the medium-rated XSS vulnerability. If exploited, the flaw may have allowed hackers to infiltrate Elementor to add malicious JavaScript to posts, and then execute this code to seize control of the site if the victim held administrative privileges.

Meanwhile, researchers with PatchStack identified a remote code execution vulnerability in another WordPress plugin known as WP Super Cache, which is used to cache pages of a WordPress site. This vulnerability could’ve been exploited by hackers to upload and execute malicious code on a targeted site in order to seize control.


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Cisco patches small business routers

Cisco has identified and patched a highly-rated vulnerability in a handful of its small business router products.

This remote code execution and denial of service (DOS) vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2021-1287, was embedded in the web-based management interface for Cisco RV132W ADSL2+ Wireless-N VPN routers and RV134W VDSL2 Wireless-AC VPN routers. Remote hackers could have exploited the flaw to execute code on an affected device or cause it to restart unexpectedly.

The now-patched management interface was unable to properly validate user input in its previous build. An attacker may have exploited this by sending crafted HTTP requests to an affected device, with successful attacks allowing them to execute code as the root user on the operating system, or cause the device to reload. This would lead to the router being locked in a DOS state.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.