Extra '&' in Microsoft development code gave hackers IE exploit
Company's security development expert confirms reports by outside researchers
Computerworld - Microsoft yesterday confirmed that a single superfluous character in its own development code is responsible for the bug that has let hackers exploit Internet Explorer (IE) since early July.
A pair of German researchers who analyzed a vulnerability in a Microsoft-made ActiveX control came to the same conclusion three weeks ago.
"The bug is simply a typo," Michael Howard, a principal security program manager in Microsoft's security engineering and communications group, said in a post Tuesday to the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) blog. Howard, who is probably best known for co-authoring Writing Secure Code, went on to say that the typo -- an errant "&" character -- is the "core issue" in the MSVidCtl ActiveX control.
That video-streaming control was created by Microsoft using a modified version of an older edition of a code "library," dubbed Active Template Library (ATL), that Microsoft admitted Tuesday contained multiple vulnerabilities. Also on Tuesday, Microsoft patched Visual Studio, the company's development platform that contains ATL. Those patches, however, do not automatically fix software that was developed using the buggy ATL. Instead, vendors -- Microsoft as well as third-party firms -- must use the patched Visual Studio to recompile their code, then distribute the new, secure software to users.
Howard said that the bug in the MSVidCtl ActiveX control was introduced by an internal version of ATL, not one that was available to outside developers.
Others at Microsoft drew a direct line between the ATL bug Howard described to the public exploits hackers have been using for much of this month, including drive-by attacks conducted from thousands of compromised Web sites.
"This public exploit took advantage of the fact that MSVidCtl uses a modified version of vulnerable ATL headers," said Fermin Serna, an engineer in the Microsoft Security Research Center (MSRC), in a blog post earlier Tuesday. "In this specific instance, the vulnerability allows an attacker to corrupt memory which may lead to a remote code execution," added Serna.
- N.C. State researchers devise tool that detects Android malware
- Encrypted communications to take center stage at Cebit
- The tangled tale of Mt. Gox's missing millions
- NSA used 'European bazaar' to spy on EU citizens
- Trust issue looms large for tech companies capitalizing on personal data
- Groups ask FTC to investigate Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp
- Security Manager's Journal: Security flaw shakes faith in Apple mobile devices
- Cisco patches flaws in routers, wireless LAN controllers
- Tracking metadata can be useful -- and proper
- CIO not the only one to blame for Target breach
- 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