Microsoft confirms attacks against IE6, IE7
'Browse-and-own' bug lets hackers hijack Windows XP; temp fix available
Computerworld - For the second time in six weeks, Microsoft today confirmed that hackers are exploiting an unpatched bug in DirectX, this time by attacking Internet Explorer (IE).
The company's security team issued an advisory Monday around 1 p.m. ET acknowledging reports of in-the-wild attacks and providing more information about who is vulnerable.
Earlier today, security researchers at a pair of Danish firms had announced that thousands of legitimate Web sites hacked over the weekend were conducting drive-by attacks on IE users with an exploit of a critical unpatched vulnerability in Windows' DirectShow, part of DirectX.
"A browse-and-get-owned attack vector exists," Chengyun Chu, of the Microsoft Security Response Center's engineering team, said in a blog post this afternoon. "A user needs to be lured to navigate to a malicious Web site or a compromised legitimate Web site to be affected ... [but] no further user interaction is needed."
Users running IE6 or IE7 on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 are vulnerable to the drive-bys attacks, Microsoft said. Vista and Server 2008 are not at risk, however, nor are people running IE8, Microsoft's newest browser.
Although Microsoft promised it would patch the bug, a company spokesman declined to say whether that patch would be ready by July 14, the next regularly-scheduled security update release day.
To protect at-risk PCs in the meantime, the company urged users to set 45 "kill bits" in the flawed ActiveX control that contains the vulnerability. That ActiveX control, Microsoft admitted, wasn't intended to be used by IE. "We identified that none of the ActiveX Control Objects hosted by msvidctl.dll are meant to be used in IE," said Chu. "Therefore, we recommend to kill-bit all of these controls as a defense-in-depth practice. The side effect is minimal."
Setting ActiveX kill bits can be dangerous, as it involves editing the Windows registry. "If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system," Microsoft warned in its advisory. "Use Registry Editor at your own risk."
An easier way to set the kill bits is to run a custom downloadable automated tool that Microsoft's crafted. The company offered a similar tool as a workaround for the other DirectShow bug it acknowledged in late May.
The new tool can be downloaded from Microsoft's support site.
An earlier report in Computerworld credited the Danish company CSIS Security Group with first publicizing the DirectShow vulnerability. Actually, Chinese security forums and antivirus firms, including Kingsoft (Google Translate translation), were the first to document the bug.
Users running a non-Microsoft browser, such as Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome, are safe from attack.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts