Risk
9/21/2012
12:03 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

Microsoft Patches IE Bug

Microsoft plans to issue a patch Friday to deal with the latest in a barrage of zero-day exploits for Internet Explorer.

Following security researcher Eric Romang's September 16 discovery of an Internet Explorer (IE) zero-day exploit, Microsoft, which officially acknowledged the vulnerability the next day and later offered a workaround, is set to deploy a patch on Friday. The remedy will arrive via Windows Update and is set to unroll around 10 a.m. Pacific Time. The company is hosting a live, online Q&A at noon to address any concerns.

The security fix caps a busy few weeks for Microsoft's security teams. Earlier, the company generated moderate controversy when it initially said an exploit in Internet Explorer 10 would not be addressed until after the browser begins shipping with Windows 8 at the end of October. Microsoft later reversed the decision.

The new security risk affects IE versions 6,7, 8, and 9, and can allow attackers to seize control of a victim's computer. Citing StatCounter, security firm Rapid 7, which "strongly" suggested avoiding the Microsoft browser until a fix was offered, noted that around two-fifths of North American Internet users, and one-third of users worldwide, are susceptible to attack. Concern was so widespread in some corners that the German government discouraged the use of afflicted IE versions.

[ For more on the IE 9 zero-day exploit, see Microsoft Warns Of IE 9 Security Bug. ]

Despite the aggressive fears, nCircle's Andrew Storm said in an interview that "there's been a lot of discussion, but it hasn't panned out to be an Internet pandemic." He noted that the malware seems intended for targeted attacks and that instances in the wild have so far been fairly limited.

Evidence suggests the malware originated in China, information that, along with a recent Symantec report, suggests well-funded organizations within the country--and perhaps even the government itself--are issuing cyber-attacks.

Storm said such speculation probably has "some truth behind it" but countered that definitive proof might not emerge any time soon. "Right now, we have to guess quite a bit about what's going on," he asserted, noting that governments are unlikely to admit to such activities.

Storm also said it's difficult to determine what the malware authors intended, as once word got out, the creators had to shelf their plans.

He lauded Microsoft's quick solution, remarking that it's come much quicker than anyone expected. He noted, however, that the company recently committed to doubling the resources dedicated to IE testing. "Given that statement," he stated," it's not surprising they were able to rush [an update] out."

Ryan Eldridge is co-founder of Nerds on Call, which he said repairs zero-day exploits on around 1,500 computers every week. Like Rapid7, Eldridge's company discouraged users from using IE until the vulnerability had been addressed. In an interview, he explained that such caution is wise because "the exploit will live on the Internet pretty much forever," noting that users who run unpatched browsers "will be toast."

He echoed Storm's assertion that the attackers have so far pursued specific goals rather than widespread mischief. Still, he cautioned, "Once [the exploit] starts getting into the wild, other groups get hold of it and turn it to their own nefarious means." Indeed, with the vulnerability already integrated into Rapid7's Metasploit testing tool, the duplicitous code is available to those who want it.

Microsoft's next browser could mitigate security concerns. Following Chrome's lead, it will bundle Flash and its updates directly into IE 10, reducing the number of individual steps users must complete to protect their systems.

Regarding this decision, Storm said, "Microsoft had to do it," noting that Chrome's approach has included successes such as fixing Flash bugs "before Adobe's even released a patch."

Eldridge sees the Flash integration as a positive step. Microsoft has absorbed criticism for automating updates in the past, he noted, since some feel that "users should make that choice." Nonetheless, he stated that removing often-negligent users from aspects of the security maintenance process could benefit the Internet as whole.

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on mobile device management and security. Take our 2013 InformationWeek Mobile Device Management and Security Survey now. Survey ends Sept. 14.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Latest Comment: LOL.
Current Issue
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6213
Published: 2014-04-19
Unspecified vulnerability in Virtual User Generator in HP LoadRunner before 11.52 Patch 1 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors, aka ZDI-CAN-1833.

CVE-2013-6214
Published: 2014-04-19
Unspecified vulnerability in the Integration Service in HP Universal Configuration Management Database 9.05, 10.01, and 10.10 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information via unknown vectors, aka ZDI-CAN-2042.

CVE-2014-0778
Published: 2014-04-19
The TCPUploader module in Progea Movicon 11.4 before 11.4.1150 allows remote attackers to obtain potentially sensitive version information via network traffic to TCP port 10651.

CVE-2014-1974
Published: 2014-04-19
Directory traversal vulnerability in LYSESOFT AndExplorer before 20140403 and AndExplorerPro before 20140405 allows attackers to overwrite or create arbitrary files via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-1983
Published: 2014-04-19
Unspecified vulnerability in Cybozu Remote Service Manager through 2.3.0 and 3.x before 3.1.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (CPU consumption) via unknown vectors.

Best of the Web