Attackers could hijack masses of compute power used in high end movie production and manufacturing via a still active security flaw in a popular NVIDIA application.
The Mental Ray rendering application was used in the production of movies including the Hulk, the Harry Potter, the Matrix series and Star Wars Episode II. It enabled movie studios to operate powerful render farms to produce images in computer-animated films.
NVIDIA says on its website about half of its Mental Ray customers used the platform for Computer Aided Design including BMW, Honda, Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and "many other Fortune 100 industrial companies".
An unpatched vulnerability affecting the latest version of Mental Ray allowed an attacker with prior access to a connected machine to gain control over a render farm by injecting a malicious remote library, vulnerability firm Revuln found.
"One of the possible scenarios to exploit this computational power is to reuse such farms to perform password cracking" or Bitcoin mining, researchers Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante wrote in a brief paper. (pdf)
"As a side note, we noticed that the service spawns a new process for each new confection, which means that an attacker has potentially infinite chances to achieve a successful exploitation."