Little more than a year ago I wrote about the possibility to attack gaming platform to compromise large audience of gamers in stealthy way, the access to millions of machines represent a dream for every attackers and I hypnotized its repercussion in cyber warfare domains. Gaming platform are usually complex systems equipped with the latest technology and the idea to exploit them as possible attack vectors cultivated by many governments.
Researchers at ReVuln, Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante, presented at Black Hat Europe 2013 in Amsterdam how to convert local bugs and features in remotely exploitable security vulnerabilities by using the popular EA Origin 3 platform as an attack vector against remote systems.

EA Origin is one of the biggest gaming related digital delivery platforms with more than 40 million the access it to purchase games for any kind of platform, from mobile to PC.

Before describe the discovery of the two Italian experts let's give analyze how games run under Origin platform, game execution articulated in the following steps that allows the DRM protection
  • S1. The game invokes Origin by providing possible command line arguments to the Origin process.
  • S2. The game process dies.
  • S3. The Origin process spawns the actual game by providing the same command line arguments provided in S1.

As shown in the picture Origin process communicates with games via a specific formatted URI, origin://, Origin also allows games upon launch to use custom command line arguments, CommandParams, specified as URI parameter.

The Paper states:

"The Origin platform allows malicious users to exploit local vulnerabilities or features, by abusing the Origin URI handling mechanism. In other words, an attacker can craft a malicious internet link to execute malicious code remotely on victim's system, which has Origin installed."


ReVuln Team demonstrated attack scheme using the game Crysis 3 recently released and proving several ways to trigger execution of remote code, the results are surprising, an attacker could execute malicious code to hit remote victim systems abusing the Origin platform.

One of the methods exploits a feature in the NVidia Benchmark framework in CryEngine's game engine using a specially craft Origin link, the attacker in this case only need Origin game ID of the victim for the attack.
A proof of concept is available on Vimeo Revuln Channel:
The researchers demonstrated that it is possible to conduct same attack also in the case attackers haven't any knowledge of the specific games installed on the remote system itself, the paper describes the technique named "No-look exploitation link" with following statements

"An attacker can brute-force the Game ID field in the URI in order to find a vulnerable game installed on the victim's system. The idea is pretty straightforward, once an attacker finds a set of vulnerable games sharing the same vulnerable game engine, an attacker can define the following link:"

Auriemma Ferrante and not merely describe the way exploit vulnerabilities but provide also suggestions to mitigate the threat such as disabling the origin:// URI globally or the origin:// handler in the users' browsers which supports such feature.

Let me suggest to give a look to the presentation proposed by ReVuln, I found many points of interest such as the reference to a 0-day vulnerability market specific for gaming platforms. The demand for this kind of 0-days increased, on the market is possible acquire both server-side and client-side exploit and also rent services such as DDoS attacks against clients or servers.

It easy to predict that in the future we will assist to an increase of this type of attacks with unpredictable consequences, while the technological component in our lives is becoming increasingly significant, in parallel increases our attack surface.

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