VMware patches arbitrary code execution flaw in desktop, server virtualization products

Loading specially crafted virtual machine checkpoint files can result in the host system being compromised

Virtualization software vendor VMware has released security patches for its Workstation, Player, Fusion, ESXi and ESX products in order to address two vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to compromise the host system or crash a virtual machine.

The more serious vulnerability is identified as CVE-2012-3288 and stems from an improper validation of input data when loading virtual machine checkpoint files, VMware said in a security advisory Thursday.

Attackers could exploit this validation error by loading specially crafted checkpoint files to trigger a memory corruption and potentially execute arbitrary code on the host system.

VMware advised customers to upgrade to the newly released Workstation 8.0.4, Player 4.0.4 and Fusion 4.1.3 or to install the patches available for their respective versions of ESXi and ESX. Customers should also avoid importing virtual machines from untrusted sources, the company said.

The second vulnerability addressed by the new security updates could allow attackers to crash a virtual machine by sending malformed traffic from a remote virtual device.

Remote virtual devices are devices like CD-ROMs that are made available to a virtual machine, but are physically attached to a remote computer. Traffic coming from remote virtual devices is incorrectly handled, VMware said.

The risk associated with this vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that only users with administrative privileges can attach a remote device to a virtual machine. Users are advised not to attach untrusted remote devices to virtual machines, the company said.

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