Microsoft: We're working to 'adjust' IE's mouse tracking
U.K. analytics firm returns fire Friday, alleges Microsoft downplays the security, privacy threat
Computerworld - A U.K. analytics firm that warned earlier this week of an information leak in Internet Explorer (IE) today rebuked Microsoft for downplaying the bug.
Microsoft, however, has announced it is working on a fix, although the nature of the anticipated patch was unclear.
Criminals could use the technique, Spider.io alleged, to monitor mouse movements used to log into sensitive websites with "virtual keyboards," on-screen keyboards similar to those on smartphones. Some websites, notably a few banking sites, rely on virtual keyboards as a way to stymie the far-more-common malware that captures keystrokes from a physical keyboard.
Yesterday, Microsoft downplayed the threat, noting -- as Spider.io had also charged -- that only a pair of advertising analytics companies have taken advantage of the bug. Those firms, said Spider.io, monitor cursor movement to track whether an ad is visible to the user, or whether it is hidden because the web page is larger than the viewing area of the browser.
Spider.io relies on its own technology to determine what proportion of the ad is visible. The technique, which Spider.io CEO Douglas de Jager labeled "browser optimization" in an October interview, watches how a browser allocates resources to render an ad.
The U.K. firm posted a message on Bugtraq, one of the most popular security mailing lists, on Tuesday, then followed that with a blog post Wednesday, recounting how it reported the bug to Microsoft on Oct. 1, but was later told by Microsoft that the Redmond, Wash. developer had no plans to fix the flaw.
Microsoft's top executive for IE, Dean Hachamovitch, took to a company blog Thursday to counter Spider.io's claims.
Hachamovitch downplayed the threat to Windows users, and said that Spider.io's report was motivated more by spite than by concerns over security. "From what we know now, the underlying issue has more to do with competition between analytics companies than consumer safety or privacy," said Hachamovitch. "The only reported active use of this behavior involves competitors to Spider.io providing analytics."
However, Hachamovitch did promise that Microsoft was on the case. "We are actively working to adjust this behavior in IE," he said.
The "adjustment," he said, would bring IE into line with other browsers' behavior. "Analytics firms can expect to do viewpoint detection in IE similarly to how they do this in other browsers."
- Deep Security +VMware vSphere with Operations Management Most midsize organizations are highly virtualized on VMware, and while this has produced significant savings, it also has created new challenges when it...
- 3 Questions to Ask Your DNS Host about Lowering DDoS Risks Neustar has had wide-ranging conversations with clients wanting to know how they can optimize protection as DDoS attacks increase in frequency and size.
- The Danger Deepens: 2014 Neustar Annual DDoS Attacks and Impact Report This report compares DDoS findings from 2013 to 2012, based on a survey of 440 North American companies, including 139 businesses delivering technology...
- DDoS Infographic: How Are Attacks Evolving? For the third consecutive year, Neustar surveyed businesses across major industries to track the evolution of DDoS attacks. Are they more frequent? Larger?...
- How to Use Crowd-Sourced Threat Intelligence to Stop Malware in its Tracks Threat sharing networks have been around for a long time, however they have typically been "invitation-only", available to only large companies, or those...
- An Incident Response Playbook: From Monitoring to Operations As cyber-attacks grow more sophisticated, many organizations are investing more into incident detection and response capabilities. In this webcast, learn how to develop... All Malware and Vulnerabilities White Papers | Webcasts