Microsoft warns of new IE bug; attacks under way
It's the second zero-day vulnerability in the last 60 days
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today warned of a critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer that is already being exploited by hackers; it was the company's second such admission in the past two months.
Internet Explorer 6 and its 2006 successor, IE7, contain a vulnerability that can be used by attackers to inject malicious code into a Windows PC. The oldest and newest of Microsoft's supported browsers, IE 5.01 and IE8, respectively, are not vulnerable to such attacks.
"At this time, we are aware of targeted attacks attempting to use this vulnerability," Microsoft acknowledged in an advisory posted simultaneously with two security updates that patched eight bugs in Windows and Office. Elsewhere, Microsoft said that the vulnerability had been publicly disclosed.
"It doesn't look like an exploit has been publicly posted," noted Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc., who added that Microsoft might have been made aware of the vulnerability either via a customer report or from one of the security companies that partner with it in the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP). A report on the bug later today from the likes of Symantec or McAfee would indicate the latter, said Storms.
This is the second time in the last 60 days that Microsoft has admitted that hackers were exploiting an unpatched bug in IE. In mid-January, Microsoft said that a flaw in IE had been used to attack several companies' networks, including Google's and Adobe's. Microsoft patched that vulnerability, and seven others, later in the month when it issued an emergency update, often dubbed an "out-of-band" update.
As is its practice, Microsoft today did not spell out a timeline for patching the latest IE vulnerability, nor did it commit to an out-of-band fix.
Storms said it was too early to say whether Microsoft would rush a patch to users. "Generally, one of the indicators is if an exploit has gone public," he said, noting that as far as he knew, none had. "That often determines how quickly they'll patch. Of course, the way the Internet moves, [an exploit] could be posted in minutes, and then the story changes completely."
If Microsoft does not go out-of-band for this IE vulnerability, it might not issue a patch for it until May, Storms said, noting that the company will have to thoroughly test the repair job. April might be possible, he added, depending on how long Microsoft has known of the vulnerability and where it is in the fix cycle. "But then they wouldn't get a full QA cycle on the patch," he said.
Microsoft's next scheduled Patch Tuesday is April 13, five weeks from today.
Microsoft listed several recommended actions that users of IE6 and IE7 can take to defend themselves in lieu of a patch. They include modifying access to the "iepeers.dll," disabling scripting in the browsers and enabling DEP (data execution prevention).
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Researcher claims two hacker gangs exploiting unpatched IE bug
- Update: Third of Internet Explorer users at risk from attacks
- Microsoft plans another short patch slate for next week, but finds a few XP bugs to crush
- Target attack shows danger of remotely accessible HVAC systems
- Target hackers try new ways to use stolen card data
- Update: Microsoft to patch just-revealed Windows zero-day tomorrow
- NSA spying prompts open TrueCrypt encryption software audit to go viral
- Microsoft warns of Office zero-day, active hacker exploits
- Hackers move to create next Blackhole after 'Paunch' arrest
- Adobe hack shows subscription software vendors lucrative targets
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- 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... All Security White Papers | Webcasts