Monday, July 16, 2012

DISable Windows Sidebar & Gadgets NOW! Update

The Register is a British IT and computer blog. I follow it's security blog; one of the recent articles was about dangers posed by Windows Vista and Windows 7's features "sidebar" and "gadgets". To save you the need to go to this page and then return I will quote their full article here:
 Microsoft has advised Vista and Windows 7 users to put Gadgets and the Windows Sidebar to the sword, following the revelation of yet-to-be-detailed remote code execution vulnerabilities in the features.

Redmond issued this advisory ahead of an upcoming Black Hat presentation by Mickey Shkatov and Toby Kohlenberg. The two have promised to reveal “interesting attack vectors” in a presentation called “We Have You By The Gadgets”.

Microsoft hasn’t provided any further information about the vulnerability, other than to say that users could install insecure Gadgets that enable remote code execution.

“Gadgets installed from untrusted sources can harm your computer and can access your computer’s files, show you objectionable content, or change their behavior at any time,” Microsoft notes.
Since Gadgets run with the rights of the current user, the vulnerability could allow exploits all the way up to administrative level.

The Microsoft fix disables the Windows Sidebar and Gadgets on all supported Vista and Windows 7 editions.

The unloved Sidebar feature for Gadgets was killed off in Windows 8, as was the Windows Live Gallery used to access Gadgets from the desktop.
I always have advised my customers not to use sidebar functionality; especially on early Vista systems with limited hardware sidebar gadgets caused a perceivable performance reduction.

It seems to be interesting that Microsoft issues a "fix" even before the vulnerability has become public. That tells me something about this vulnerability: It must be really dangerous or maybe it's just too easy to exploit it?

If I have set up your system and you have an icon labeled "Teamviewer..." on your desktop then I can apply remotely a simple fix that will disable the sidebar and it's gadgets permanently and system wide. And you have my phone number.

Update: There is a relatively easy way to disable the sidebar and the gadgets yourself:
Uninstalling the Gadget Platform also removes the Gadget options from the desktop context menu and the control panel. To uninstall, open the Control Panel, click Programs and Features. In the upper-left corner click Turn Windows features on or off. In the Windows Features list, scroll down and un-check Windows Gadget Platform, then click OK. This will require a reboot.
As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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