Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

12/20/2018
05:05 PM
50%
50%

Attackers Use Scripting Flaw in Internet Explorer, Forcing Microsoft Patch

Microsoft issues an emergency update to its IE browser after researchers notified the company that a scripting engine flaw is being used to compromised systems.

Microsoft issued an emergency patch Wednesday after security researchers warned that attackers were using a vulnerability in Internet Explorer's scripting engine to compromise computers.

The vulnerability, designated CVE-2018-8653, affects the scripting engine in Microsoft's Internet Explorer when it executes Visual Basic scripts (VBScript) and Microsoft's version of Javascript. Attackers that convince a user to view a specially constructed Web page, HTML document, PDF file, or Office document can execute malicious programs due to a memory-corruption issue.

"Any application that supports embedding Internet Explorer or its scripting engine component may be used as an attack vector for this vulnerability," the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University warned in an advisory, adding that "this vulnerability was detected in exploits in the wild."

The out-of-cycle patch is the third time this year that Microsoft issued a fix for a serious flaw outside of its second-Tuesday-of-the-month schedule, not counting patches for problematic updates. In January, the company patched its code to support firmware updates needed to secure computers against Meltdown and Spectre processor flaws (CVE-2017-5753 and others). In March, Microsoft patched a kernel vulnerability (CVE-2018-1038) introduced during the earlier January update. In May, just a few days before its scheduled patch day, Microsoft issued an update for a vulnerability (CVE-2018-8115) in Windows containers.

In 2003, Microsoft moved away from issuing patches as needed to a monthly patch cycle. While the move seemed to be a way to reduce the number of articles covering the company's frequent software flaws, Microsoft executives argued that deploying patches on a weekly basis caused too much chaos of systems administrators. The company started its monthly patch cycle on October 14, 2003.

This month, Microsoft released its schedule patch on Dec. 11.

In its guidance for the security issue, the company explained that its latest update modifies how Internet Explorer and the scripting engine handles objects in memory. Without the patch, attackers have been able to infect systems using specially crafted scripts.

"In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit the vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website, for example, by sending an email," the company stated in its advisory.

Microsoft did not provide any other explanation, but a spokesperson did issue a comment: "We addressed CVE-2018-8653 and customers who have Windows Update enabled and have applied the latest security updates, are protected automatically," Jeff Jones, senior director at Microsoft, said in a statement.

The scripting engine used by Internet Explorer and Windows has frequently been a source of vulnerability and the vector of attacks and exploits. In May, Microsoft warned of a remote code execution vulnerability in the VBScript engine (CVE-2018-8174), which could be attacked through Internet Explorer or using an ActiveX control in Microsoft Office.

Attackers have often used Office documents with malicious VBScripts to infect systems and get past malware scanners.

The update also continues Microsoft's habit of unwelcome Christmas surprises.

December has always been a month for critical patches in Microsoft products. Last year, for example, Microsoft issued a critical patch for a remote-code execution vulnerability in its Malware Protection Engine, which scans files for potentially malicious code. 

Microsoft credited Clement Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group with notifying them of the vulnerability's exploitation.

 

Related stories

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I 'Hacked' My Accounts Using My Mobile Number: Here's What I Learned
Nicole Sette, Director in the Cyber Risk practice of Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps,  11/19/2019
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-13157
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
nsGreen.dll in Naver Vaccine 2.1.4 allows remote attackers to overwrite arbitary files via directory traversal sequences in a filename within nsz archive.
CVE-2012-2079
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-22
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the Activity module 6.x-1.x for Drupal.
CVE-2019-11325
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony before 4.2.12 and 4.3.x before 4.3.8. The VarExport component incorrectly escapes strings, allowing some specially crafted ones to escalate to execution of arbitrary PHP code. This is related to symfony/var-exporter.
CVE-2019-18887
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. The UriSigner was subject to timing attacks. This is related to symfony/http-kernel.
CVE-2019-18888
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
An issue was discovered in Symfony 2.8.0 through 2.8.50, 3.4.0 through 3.4.34, 4.2.0 through 4.2.11, and 4.3.0 through 4.3.7. If an application passes unvalidated user input as the file for which MIME type validation should occur, then arbitrary arguments are passed to the underlying file command. T...