Google Patches Actively Exploited Chrome Vulnerability

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A vulnerability Google patched last week in the Chrome browser had been already exploited in the wild.

Tracked as CVE-2019-5786 and featuring a high severity rating, the security bug is a use-after-free in FileReader, the API that allows web apps to asynchronously read the contents of files stored on the user’s computer.

The flaw was discovered by Clement Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group in late February.

Google announced the release of a new Chrome version containing the patch on March 1 (Chrome 72.0.3626.121 for Windows, Mac, and Linux), but said nothing of the vulnerability being exploited in the wild.

On Tuesday, however, the Internet giant confirmed that an exploit for the flaw indeed exists, and Google’s security employees took to Twitter to urge users to update Chrome as soon as possible.

“Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2019-5786 exists in the wild,” the company noted in an update made to its initial advisory on Tuesday.

The vulnerability can be triggered when the user visits or is redirected to a specially crafted web page and could be exploited for arbitrary code execution, an advisory published by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) reveals.

“Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the browser. Depending on the privileges associated with this application, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights,” the advisory reads.

Last week, exploit detection service EdgeSpot said it identified PDF files designed to exploit a zero-day vulnerability in Chrome to collect user data. The company claims such documents have been around since at least December, but a fix has yet to be released.

The problem is that Chrome doesn’t alert users when PDF files send data, it seems. Some security experts, including Google employees, believe the issue should not have been described as a zero-day.

Recently, Adobe patched Reader vulnerabilities that could be exploited to harvest user data via PDF files.

Related: Chrome Zero-Day Exploited to Harvest User Data via PDF Files

Related: Vulnerability in Chrome for Android Patched Three Years After Disclosure

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Previous Columns by Ionut Arghire:
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