Let's suppose I'm on the internet all day long. Let's suppose I listen to talk show radio programs over the internet using a media player, something like Win Amp. Am I protected from a browser hijacking as long as my browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome) are closed down? Is it safe to assume there is no way for a browser hijacker to take over my computer as long as my Firefox, Internet Explore and Chrome are closed?

  • winamp used to have an embeded IE6 control for displaying meta content, so that's no good. Apps can also spawn other apps, even if they aren't running, so it doesn't matter about them being "closed down". That said, provided all it does is play audio, and doesn't have any linking capability, you should be perfectly safe, unless there's a known vulnerability in your media player software. – dandavis Jul 27 '17 at 3:58
  • Do I understand you correctly? Your position is, stay away from powerful players like WinAmp iTunes and VLC. Use low power vanity media players with reduced functionality. Is that your idea? – user14994 Jul 27 '17 at 12:22
  • i for one don't worry about attacks that much, i have a good backup plan and take several precautions up-front. if you have concerns about some of a "powerful" players feature's attack surface, then it makes sense to reduce that surface. – dandavis Jul 27 '17 at 20:01

Media players often connect to the internet today, for example to get album covers, lyrics, new music (when streaming) or similar. This functionality can have bugs which might result in remote code execution, i.e. a take over of your system by the attacker. And, remote execution can include starting the browser with a specific URL which then might result in hijacking the browser for other purposes.

If you want to really be sure that no remote attacker can take over your system through the media player make sure that the system has no internet connection and does not run any content which might have been compromised by an attacker, like previously downloaded playlists, music or similar.

  • How does an attacker 'know' what to attack on my desktop? In my (simple) mind I picture an attacker moving from IP address to IP address searching for something it (he) is prepared to act on like a Firefox home page pinned to a Yahoo news field. You seem to be attributing intelligence and a sense of discrimination and preparedness to a code script. Are attack scripts really that intelligent? – user14994 Jul 27 '17 at 0:11
  • @user14994: attackers can be that intelligent if it worth the effort. How much efforts are needed and if they are worth to spend depends on the specific vulnerabilities and on the possible return of investment: if you are a high value target more intelligence will be used to attack you. If you are a low value target but can be hacked without much efforts since you have the same vulnerability as 1000s of other victims than the efforts are worth too. – Steffen Ullrich Jul 27 '17 at 7:37

I have to agree with Steffen. --Hi, I don't have enough reputation points to comment but to answer your comment to Steffen's post-- you're not necessarily specifically attacked. You might be just one of many that they're casting a wide neat. There's ways of remotely scanning you for vulnerabilities or checking things like user agent strings, cookies, http header redirects and other artifacts that can clue in that you're not on a browser, and that you're on a different client. At the in of the day any client with a vulnerability known or unknown could be exploited and potentially 'hijacked.' Check out something called the BEEF framework to learn more.

So no, you can't really be hijacked directly if your browser processes or truly closed-- but exploitation can happen with any other client you're using. I would also checkout something called Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit which protects against multiple types of client side 0-days potentially for something 'turn key'.

  • I have the freeware version of Malwarebytes installed on my computer. I am also using something new on the horizon called- Cyber Reason Ransom Free. What are your opinions about Cyber Reason Ransom Free? – user14994 Jul 27 '17 at 12:15
  • I couldn't tell you, we don't have experience with that software. – SCIS Security Jul 27 '17 at 15:55

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