Vulnerabilities / Threats // Vulnerability Management
5/26/2014
12:00 AM
Tim Wilson
Tim Wilson
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New Vulnerability In IE8 Remains Unpatched

Security vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser is disclosed by Zero-Day Initiative after software giant fails to patch during 180-day window

The Zero-Day Initiative Wednesday released details on a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 that was discovered in October and still has not been patched.

The ZDI, a vulnerability broker operated by HP's TippingPoint unit, gives vendors 180 days to fix flaws before it discloses them. The new IE8 vulnerability, which was discovered in October 2013, was not included in Microsoft's May Patch Tuesday releases, so the ZDI finally released the data -- even though no patch is yet available.

"This vulnerability allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable installations of Microsoft Internet Explorer," the ZDI says. "User interaction is required to exploit this vulnerability in that the target must visit a malicious page or open a malicious file.

"The specific flaw exists within the handling of CMarkup objects," according to the vulnerability report. "The allocation initially happens within CMarkup::CreateInitialMarkup. [A dangling pointer is freed] after the execution of certain JavaScript code followed by a CollectGarbage call. By manipulating a document's elements, an attacker can force a dangling pointer to be reused after it has been freed. An attacker can leverage this vulnerability to execute code under the context of the current process."

Using this flaw, an attacker could potentially convince a user to click on a link to a malicious or compromised website, then infect the user's machine and gain the same rights as the user, the ZDI says.

Although there is no patch available, there are some workarounds available, the ZDI notes. The simplest one is to use another browser, or a later version of IE, since the vulnerability only affects IE8. Users can also set their Internet security zone settings to "High" to block ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting. Enterprises can also minimize the impact of the flaw by maintaining a least-privilege policy that limits their administrative rights.

Why hasn't Microsoft released a patch for the vulnerability, which was first disclosed to it more than seven months ago? In a blog posted last week, Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek suggests that other vulnerabilities may have taken precedence.

"After six months, Microsoft no doubt has developed a patch for the issue," Kandek writes. "However, it seems its release was delayed due to the short term nature May’s IE patch (MS14-029) which was specifically engineered to address a vulnerability in the use in wild, that was detected by Google’s security team.  That release took priority over the normal, scheduled release and got Microsoft into this situation with ZDI."

Kandek advises users to update to a newer version of IE or avoid the browser altogether. 

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 10:19:21 PM
Re: High risks
Thanks!

This seems to be the same solution to the vulnerability that lies within the past vulnerability that involved IE versions 6-10. EMET 3.4 or higher is needed.

How do the two compare on a functional level? I understand this vulnerability, with user input, allows the exploitist the same privileges but I was under the impression that the previous vulnerability didn't provide such access. 
securityaffairs
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securityaffairs,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 6:12:00 PM
Re: High risks
Ryan as explained by the researcher who has reported the flaw

 

"Users are advised to block ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting and also install EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit), that enable you to manage security mitigation technologies,"

 

http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/25122/hacking/microsoft-0day-internet-explorer.html
securityaffairs
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securityaffairs,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 6:11:37 PM
Re: High risks
Ryan as explained by the researcher who has reported the flaw

 

"Users are advised to block ActiveX Controls and Active Scripting and also install EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit), that enable you to manage security mitigation technologies,"

 

http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/25122/hacking/microsoft-0day-internet-explorer.html
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 5:25:04 PM
ActiveX high security
Is this vulnerability explicitly allowed via activex controls? IE allows for custom settings, I would like to know specific activex control that provides the vulnerability. This way the settings to be customized to not disallow activex controls that may need to be active for efficient business application. 
securityaffairs
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securityaffairs,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 2:06:25 PM
High risks
The story is very concerning, the window of exposure is really large and third-parties actors could benefit. 

It could be interesting to evaluate if attackers have already exploited the flaw in the wild. I'm waiting for official data from security firms that are investigating on ongoing cyber attacks.

I'm very alarmed by a so long time spent to fix a flaw. 180 days is really a limit-time for this kind of fix.

 

 
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