There is an input validation flaw in Internet Explorer that allows you to specify arbitrary arguments to the process responsible for handling URL protocols. This is the same type of input validation vulnerability that I discovered in the Safari 3 beta (see “Safari for Windows, 0day exploit in 2 hours“).

When Firefox is installed it registers a URL protocol handler called “FirefoxURL”. A typical shell open command for this handler is as follows:

C:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~2\\FIREFOX.EXE -url “%1″ -requestPending

When Internet Explorer encounters a reference to content inside the FirefoxURL URL scheme it calls ShellExecute with the EXE image path and passes the entire request URI without any input validation. A request such as the following

FirefoxURL://foo” –argument “my value

will result in the following command line being used to launch Firefox

“C:\PROGRA~1\MOZILL~2\FIREFOX.EXE” -url “firefoxurl://foo” –argument “my value/” –requestPending

As can be evidenced it is possible to specify arbitrary arguments to the “firefox.exe” process. This is where the “-chrome” command line argument comes in handy, as it allows us to specify arbitrary Javascript code which is then executed within the privileges of trusted Chrome content.

The exploit that I developed for Safari simply opened CMD.EXE without specifying any arguments, an exercise that was left for the reader. For this exploit I have chosen to demonstrate how you can specify process arguments with the nsIProcess interface found in Mozilla.

The details can be found in the;1 component and the nsiProcess interface. nsIProcess takes 3 arguments:

  • Blocking: Whether to wait until the process terminates before returning or not
  • args: An array of arguments to pass to the process
  • count: The length of the args array

As with the previous exploit it is necessary to HTML escape any characters which cannot be used directly inside the URL or the command line, such as commas and quotes. For demonstration purposes I have chosen to escape these characters with both HTML entities and dynamic string construction.

Billy Rios already highlighted a few of the shortcomings with the FirefoxURL protocol handler in “Cross Browser Scripting Demo“. The following proof-of-concept exploit takes this reasoning to its logical conclusion, namely command execution with arbitrary arguments.

<iframe src=’firefoxurl://” -chrome “javascript:C=Components.classes;I=Components.interfaces;

Remember to remove the line breaks if you want the exploit to work, they are only there for cosmetic reasons. You can also test this exploit at

And there you have it, a cross browser command injection vulnerability for Internet Explorer. I am currently having some fun with the Windows Help Center and Office Groove 2007, both of which exhibit some clear potentials for malicious manipulation, but that will have to wait for a later article :)