Critical IE patch now available: go get it!

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches bloggers watch Microsoft's latest out-of-cycle, critical patch for Internet Explorer. Not to mention portability, 1980's style...

Previously in IT Blogwatch: Zero-day IE exploit targeting "missing" patch.

Gregg Keizer is a busy little bee:

Microsoft security logo
As it promised [Tuesday], Microsoft Corp. today issued an emergency patch to plug a critical hole in Internet Explorer (IE) that attackers have been increasingly exploiting from hacked Web sites.

The patch, described in Microsoft's security bulletin MS08-078, fixes a flaw in the data-binding function of all available versions of the popular browser, including IE5.01, IE6, IE7 and IE8 Beta 2. Microsoft labeled the bug as "critical," the most serious threat ranking in its four-step scoring system.

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According to both Microsoft and numerous security firms, attacks have been mounting, particularly since last weekend, when hackers began hijacking legitimate Web sites and launching exploits against unwary visitors. In fact, Microsoft said it monitored a "huge increase" in attacks last Saturday.
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Julie Bort bought donuts:

The number of infected Web sites, many of them legitimate, has grown at "an alarming" rate since the vulnerability was released into the wild and people need to do nothing but visit an infected site with a vulnerable browser to be affected.

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By Friday, Microsoft was aware users were becoming infected at a rate even faster than previous zero-day exploits. Originally porn sites seemed to be the carriers, but the number of legit sites causing infections was skyrocketing. Hackers were planting the exploit using well-known SQL injection techniques.

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It is users' turn to protect themselves by installing this emergency patch and all all the others, and fast.
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David Hunter gets pedagogic with the etymology: [Come again? -Ed.]

Since the bad guys were exploiting it before Microsoft knew it existed, the exploit is termed "zero day" because that is how much notice Microsoft got of the problem.

It is also termed an "drive-by" exploit since a user could pick up a malware infestation by merely using IE to browse any of thousands of compromised websites. In short, it was really nasty stuff.
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Brian Krebs sounds worried:

Microsoft estimated Monday that one in every 500 Windows users had been exposed to sites that try to exploit the flaw. Additionally, it said the number of victims was increasing at a rate of 50 percent daily.

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This is an urgent update. If you use Windows, apply this patch now.
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Microsoft's Mike Reavey grabs the mic:

This update will be applied automatically to hundreds of millions of customers through automatic updates over the next few days.  And, for our enterprise customers - with multiple systems within their networks – this update can be deployed through all standard security update management systems including, SCCM, SMS, WSUS, and Windows Update ... This update meets the quality, deployment and application compatibility criteria. It is a high-quality update, ready for broad release, and we encourage customers to test and deploy this update as quickly as possible.

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We were able to share detailed information with our partners in the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) and Microsoft Security Response Alliance (MSRA), allowing protections to be created for over 24 different security partners' products. This is further validation of our commitment to ‘community based defense’ and means customers that ... weren’t even using Microsoft products, were also protected from known attacks.
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Ed Oswald is impressed by Microsoft's speed:

Well, that was quick.

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It’s pretty bad when security experts are telling your customers to switch. These are unbiased (for the most part) folks, and the typical computer user is going to take their advice seriously.
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But Tiny Dancer... well, not so much:

Eight days is rather shamefully long to have to wait for a potentially devastating vulnerability to be fixed. This ain't Hanukkah, Microsoft, and you ain't no Maccabee.
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And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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