Microsoft works continually to improve the security of its Windows 10 operating system. Although the tech giant has certainly made its software much harder to hack into, there are still flaws in some of its features. “Open Sesame” is a vulnerability that gives hackers the ability to execute arbitrary code on a computer running Windows 10 just by using their voice.
The flaw originates in Cortana, the digital assistant, according to a group of security experts. The info was presented at the Black Hat USA conference held in Las Vegas, NV. The researchers also discovered that any individual could gain the rights to access files containing sensitive data, download and run files that have been infected, connect to malicious sites, and also get prominent privileges on a computer that has been locked.
All of this is possible because the Windows 10 UI lets apps continue to run in the background. Also, tasks can still be run by Cortana even while the machine is locked for keyboard and mouse utilization.
A ThreatPost report stated that this flaw was uncovered and reported to Microsoft in April of this year by a group of security researchers. These experts were Yuval Ron and Ron Marcovich from the Israel Institute of Technology and Tal Be’ery and Amichai Shulma from Kzen Networks.
The flaw has been documented under CVE-2018-8140. Microsoft has made it known that no exploit was uncovered in the wild. An important security rating was assigned to it.
Microsoft had this to say regarding the matter:
“An Elevation of Privilege vulnerability exists when Cortana retrieves data from user input services without consideration for status. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could execute commands with elevated permissions. To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker would require physical/console access and the system would need to have Cortana assistance enabled. The security update addresses the vulnerability by ensuring Cortana considers status when retrieves information from input services.”
This bug exists in the Windows 10 operating system’s Fall Creators Update (version 1709) as well as in the April 2018 Update (version 1803). It also exists in newer versions as well. Installation of the most recent updates can help keep Windows 10 protected from this exploit.
A demonstration of the vulnerability can be found below: