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Hotspot Shield VPN client software has a serious security vulnerability

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A new vulnerability has been discovered in Hotspot Shield's Windows VPN client that could allow for privilege escalation if exploited by an attacker.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-17365, is the result of improper directory permissions in versions 10.3.0 and earlier of the company's VPN client for Windows.

An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to corrupt system files by creating a specially crafted symbolic link to a critical file on a user's system and overwrite it with privileges of the application.

Privilege escalation vulnerability

In a security update page on its site, Hotspot Shield's parent company Pango explained that a vulnerability was initially reported in the VPN company's 10.0.1 Windows client.

The Hotspot Shield Service has system level privileges and writes log files into the folder with local user permissions.  As a result of this, removing the folder and abusing NTFS junctions can allow an unprivileged user to write to any file on the file system with SYSTEM privileges.

TechRadar Pro has reached out to both Hotspot Shield and Pango regarding this vulnerability but we've yet to hear back at the time of writing.

In the meantime though, all Hotspot Shield users using the VPN service on Windows should update their software to the latest version to avoid falling victim to any potential attacks. Version 10.6.0 of Hotspot Shield's Windows client is currently available to download on the company's site and based on the security advisory, this and any other versions above 10.3.0 are not affected by this vulnerability.

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Anthony Spadafora

After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal and TechRadar. He has been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember and has spent countless hours researching and tinkering with PCs, mobile phones and game consoles.