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This morning's news brought this story:

Hackers are hiding computer viruses in film subtitles, security experts warn

Where they warn that subtitles in videos played on computers could be used to deliver ransomware.

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Yes we all know about steganography - hiding messages in jpegs and mp3s, and I don't doubt that a message could be hidden in video. But it seems a stretch to say that subtitles could somehow activate themselves and take over a computer.

So my question is simple: Does anyone here actually know of any cases where this has happened?

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    Theres also an article on Bleepingcomputer – Adam Lindsay May 25 '17 at 18:54
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    This isn't really steganography, just a remote code execution vulnerability in the application that reads and displays the subtitles. – Ajedi32 May 25 '17 at 18:59
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From this blog the issue appears to be a file parsing problem with subtitle files used by media players.

This kind of issue can be exploited as the media player program needs to parse the subtitle file as part of using it, so a malicious file may be able to exploit vulnerabilities in the media player to execute code on the affected system.

That blog doesn't mention number of affected systems, but they're offering PoC examples and IPS signatures, so it's quite likely they're seeing active exploitation of it.

  • I wouldn't be so sure, this could be a case of "show hacking" where the security team research stuff just for the sake of marketing. Knowing the people involved this is definitely such a case. – Jonathan Allon May 28 '17 at 12:48

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