10 Replies Latest reply on Nov 23, 2015 8:16 AM by wila

    Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?

    UlyssesOfEpirus Hot Shot

      Uneasy about this backdoor feature where you can control VM's from the host command line, and even run commands in the VM's.

       

      Do features exist that make it possible for an infection to spread from guest to host, if the wrong parameters are given to vmrun or otherwise?

       

      Can it be used legitimately to intentionally move a file from the guest to the host? How do you transfer a file through the vmrun backdoor with using networking (ie if networking is disabled in the host)?

        • 1. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
          wila Guru
          User ModeratorsCommunity WarriorsvExpert

          Hello,

           

          Short answer: No

           

          Slightly longer answer.

          Being able to control the guest OS from a host is expected. In fact the Workstation GUI is just that, it gives you an easy interface to manage Virtual Machines.

          You can only copy files and run applications/scripts in the guest if you know the guest login and password.

          If you have those credentials it is game over anyways, even without vmrun as you can just login.

           

          For going the other way around, control host from guest OS, you -again- need to have login and password (this time from the host) and on top of that you need to know the host IP. The latter can be guessed in some setups. You also would need to install VIX in the guest in order to control anything, but I suppose that isn't a big problem.

           

          If you do find a way that bypasses the required credentials and allows you to do something with infected files from guest to host then you've identified a security problem and in that case we hope that you report it to VMware so that they can address it.

          At this moment however when using the latest VMware Workstation versions there are no such issues publicly known.

          --

          Wil

          | Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Desktop Products
          | Vimalin : Automated backups for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Professional
          | More info at https://www.vimalin.com
          | Twitter @wilva
          | VMware Wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com
          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
            UlyssesOfEpirus Hot Shot

            If networking is completely disabled in the host (ie all its network adapters, physical and virtual, are disabled), but the guest is allowed to connect to the internet through a usb-to-ethernet physical adapter that is virtually plugged into the VM (which is my setup), and the guest gets owned by a hacker, and the hacker guesses the HOST login name and password, can they do anything?

            • 3. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
              wila Guru
              Community WarriorsUser ModeratorsvExpert

              Hi,

               

              When a hacker gains access to your guest, then installs vmrun and there's no network connection between guest and host then the hacker can't use vmrun as to operate it from a guest he/she would have to use the -h (host) option which depends on a network connection.

              You should also disable things like shared folders and consider disabling copy&paste via shared clipboard.

               

              If there is a network connection between guest and host and he has login/password of the host then it is game over anyways.

               

              --

              Wil

              | Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Desktop Products
              | Vimalin : Automated backups for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Professional
              | More info at https://www.vimalin.com
              | Twitter @wilva
              | VMware Wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com
              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                UlyssesOfEpirus Hot Shot

                Suppose host access is given to some VM's via VMnet1 (host-only), but not to VM's that are allowed internet access as above.

                 

                And the internet accessing VM's are also allowed to connect to each other via VMnet4.

                 

                Is there any way a hacker who owns one of the guests can change the adapter setting from VMnet4 to VMnet1 in order to gain access to the host using guessed username and password?

                • 5. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                  wila Guru
                  Community WarriorsvExpertUser Moderators

                  Hi,

                   

                  No a VM does not have access to its own configuration. It would at least need direct network access to the host and as long as you did not add the host to VMNet4 then there's no access.

                   

                  Note also that there's no vmrun command to change network settings of a guest, so it is not as easy to do.

                  A way to change network settings on a guest would be if it is a shared VM AND having network access to the host.

                  But if having full access to the host the attacker could also change the vmx file via notepad (or via workstation itself)

                  Both those ways would depend on host credentials and direct network access.

                  --

                  Wil

                  | Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Desktop Products
                  | Vimalin : Automated backups for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Professional
                  | More info at https://www.vimalin.com
                  | Twitter @wilva
                  | VMware Wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com
                  • 6. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                    UlyssesOfEpirus Hot Shot

                    If I want to transfer files from the guest to the host, therefore need either copy/paste or shared folders enabled, which of the two introduces the least danger at times when nothing is being intentionally transferred?

                    • 7. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                      Klink1 Novice

                      Even if it's possible who's going to create a malicious script to target such a limited subset of machines?   Hackers goal is to target the largest set of machines as possible.  As anything use you best judgement and take normal precautions and you'll have little to worry about.

                      • 8. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                        wila Guru
                        User ModeratorsvExpertCommunity Warriors

                        Hi,

                         

                        Neither, use Drag & Drop instead of shared folder or Copy & Paste.

                         

                        --

                        Wil

                        | Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Desktop Products
                        | Vimalin : Automated backups for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Professional
                        | More info at https://www.vimalin.com
                        | Twitter @wilva
                        | VMware Wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com
                        • 9. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                          UlyssesOfEpirus Hot Shot

                          Can you disable copy/paste while enabling drag and drop?

                          • 10. Re: Can vmrun spread an infection from guest to host?
                            wila Guru
                            Community WarriorsUser ModeratorsvExpert

                            Hi,

                             

                            Sure, note that I do not have a Workstation GUI closeby so the raw .vmx settings will have to do.

                            But I do expect this to be configurable in VMware Workstation somewhere under your VM settings, probably under "isolation"

                             

                            Disable copy&paste:

                            isolation.tools.copy.disable = "TRUE"
                            isolation.tools.paste.disable = "TRUE"
                            

                             

                             

                            Disable drag&drop:

                            isolation.tools.dnd.disable = "TRUE"
                            

                             

                            Not having the settings in your .vmx file or setting to "FALSE" will enable Copy/Paste/Drag&Drop

                            --

                            Wil

                            | Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Desktop Products
                            | Vimalin : Automated backups for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Professional
                            | More info at https://www.vimalin.com
                            | Twitter @wilva
                            | VMware Wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com