Microsoft Issues Zero-Day IE Warning
Internet Explorer 9 is not affected and the risk is not significant enough to prompt an emergency patch.
Microsoft on Wednesday said it is investigating reports of a vulnerability in all supported versions of Internet Explorer, which is to say IE 6 through 8.
"The vulnerability exists due to an invalid flag reference within Internet Explorer," Microsoft said in a security advisory. "It is possible under certain conditions for the invalid flag reference to be accessed after an object is deleted. In a specially-crafted attack, in attempting to access a freed object, Internet Explorer can be caused to allow remote code execution."
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Internet Explorer 9, available for public beta testing, is not affected.
Microsoft says that the Data Execution Prevention (DEP) technology included in Internet Explorer 8 and Protected Mode, in Windows Vista and 7, will help mitigate the threat posed by this vulnerability.
In a post on the Microsoft Security Response Center blog, Microsoft group manager of response communications Jerry Bryant says that the exploit code was discovered on a single Web site which is no longer serving the code. He says that the issue is not serious enough to merit an out-of-band (emergency) patch.
HD Moore, CSO at Rapid7 and chief architect of the Metasploit framework concurs. In an e-mailed statement, he said that there are better options for drive-by attacks than this particular exploit.
In an analysis of the exploit, Symantec security researcher Vikram Thakur notes that those behind the attacks sent malicious code to individuals at a select group of targeted organizations. Victims received e-mail messages with a link to a malicious Web page that had been added to a legitimate Web site. Those visiting the page with a vulnerable browser provided the attacker(s) with the ability to execute remote code.
Based on a captured snapshot of the network traffic sent and received by the malicious code, Thakur suggests that portions of the attack were directed by a person rather than a script. "Looking at the flow of commands, it is obvious to us that someone is entering these commands manually from a remote computer," he said.
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