Risk
12/16/2008
03:03 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Issuing Emergency Patch For Internet Explorer

Without the fix, hackers have the potential to access a computer's memory space, causing IE to exit unexpectedly, in a state that can be exploited.

Microsoft is planning to release an out-of-band patch for Internet Explorer on Wednesday to address a critical security vulnerability that's being actively exploited.

The company on Saturday warned that 1 in 500 Internet Explorer users worldwide may have been exposed to malware hosted at both legitimate Web sites and porn sites that exploit an unpatched vulnerability.

Microsoft confirmed finding exploit code on a search engine in Taiwan and on a Web site in Hong Kong that serves adult entertainment content.

"Based on our stats, since the vulnerability has gone public, roughly 0.2% of users worldwide may have been exposed to websites containing exploits of this latest vulnerability," Microsoft Security Response Center researchers Ziv Mador and Tareq Saade said in a blog post. "That percentage may seem low, however it still means that a significant number of users have been affected. The trend for now is going upwards: We saw an increase of over 50% in the number of reports today compared to yesterday."

Microsoft's estimate works out to as many as 1.4 million potential victims, assuming there are a billion active Internet users (estimates range from 800 million to 1.5 billion), about 70% of whom are using Internet Explorer. The number of potential victims would drop to 940,000 if only Internet Explorer 7 users (47% browser market share) were affected. And those numbers represent only potential victims: Not all those exposed would be necessarily become infected.

The security hole in Internet Explorer has snowballed since last week when Microsoft in a Security Advisory said, "At this time, we are aware only of limited attacks that attempt to use this vulnerability."

"The vulnerability exists as an invalid pointer reference in the data binding function of Internet Explorer," explained Christopher Budd, Microsoft security response communications lead, in an e-mailed statement. "When data binding is enabled (which is the default state), it is possible under certain conditions for an object to be released without updating the array length, leaving the potential to access the deleted object's memory space. This can cause Internet Explorer to exit unexpectedly, in a state that is exploitable."

Since last Tuesday, Microsoft has updated its advisory four times. It expanded the list of potentially affected versions of Internet Explorer to include not only IE 7, but also IE 5.01 SP4, IE 6, IE 6 SP1, and IE 8 Beta 2. It also added several workaround options that involve disabling certain features.

Microsoft however says it is aware only of attacks affecting Internet Explorer 7 under the following systems: Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008.

Despite Microsoft's suggested workarounds, U.S. CERT said, it is "currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem." Wednesday's patch should provide a solution.

In a blog post on Tuesday titled "Stop Viewing Porn In Internet Explorer ... For Now," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said that his company is seeing about 20,000 new infected Web pages appearing every day and that most of those sites are legitimate sites compromised by SQL injection attacks.

Stephan Chenette, manager of security research at Websense Security Labs, said in a phone interview that he's seeing a lot more legitimate sites being infected than porn sites. "I would characterize the severity as quite critical," he said. "It has quickly become the exploit of choice among attackers."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Dark Reading Live EVENTS
INsecurity - For the Defenders of Enterprise Security
A Dark Reading Conference
While red team conferences focus primarily on new vulnerabilities and security researchers, INsecurity puts security execution, protection, and operations center stage. The primary speakers will be CISOs and leaders in security defense; the blue team will be the focus.
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] Assessing Cybersecurity Risk
[Strategic Security Report] Assessing Cybersecurity Risk
As cyber attackers become more sophisticated and enterprise defenses become more complex, many enterprises are faced with a complicated question: what is the risk of an IT security breach? This report delivers insight on how today's enterprises evaluate the risks they face. This report also offers a look at security professionals' concerns about a wide variety of threats, including cloud security, mobile security, and the Internet of Things.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.