What you need to know about Microsoft's emergency IE patch

Microsoft has released security bulletin MS10-018 ahead of Patch Tuesday in response to a zero-day exploit
  • (PC World (US online))
  • — 31 March, 2010 07:48

So far 2010 hasn't been kind to the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser. It is only March, and Microsoft is releasing the second emergency out-of-band patch to respond to a zero-day exploit in the wild.

Microsoft released security bulletin MS10-018 today--an update rated as Critical which includes 10 patches affecting all versions of Internet Explorer, including the current zero-day exploit being used to attack IE6 and IE7 browsers. Exploit code for the IE zero-day, dubbed "iepeers", is circulating on the Internet.

Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek wrote a blog post stating "Microsoft's decision to accelerate the release rather than waiting until next Patch Tuesday on April 13th is an indication that attacks against the "iepeers" vulnerability are on the rise."

Andrew Storms, Director of Security Operations for nCircle, stresses "Microsoft has a strong commitment to their regular monthly patch cycle, so issuing this patch clearly shows the elevated threat levels related to this zero-day bug. Users that are slow to patch risk remote code execution attacks that can take over a computer."

"Symantec has also observed a recent spike in attempted infections via this security hole. The typical attempted infection process seems to involve compromising a legitimate Web site, then inserting an iframe which redirects users to a malicious site," explains Joshua Talbot, security intelligence manager, Symantec Security Response.

nCircle's Storms declares "All users should install this new patch immediately, and if you haven't already upgraded to IE8, now is a very good time to seriously consider it."

Kandek concurs with that assessment, stating "All users of Internet Explorer 6 and 7 should patch immediately, as the exploit for these versions in known and becoming more popular."

It is worth noting that IE8 is not affected by the zero-day exploit that drove the urgency for this out-of-band update. However, the security bulletin addresses a range of Internet Explorer flaws, including two other critical vulnerabilities that do affect Internet Explorer 8.

Kandek cautions "IT Admins will have to decide whether they can take the risk of patching IE8 only during next Patch Tuesday--two weeks out--or whether to patch sooner and incur the cost of having two separate patch days."

Microsoft responded with unusual expediency to this zero-day exploit, leading many to question how Microsoft was able to develop a patch so quickly. The answer, according to Storms, is "the bug was responsibly disclosed to them before it became public." Basically--it was a zero-day to the general public, but Microsoft was already aware of it and actively researching the fix.

There is another known zero-day vulnerability for Internet Explorer that is not addressed in this update, and Microsoft is still investigating the flaw used to hack Internet Explorer 8 and compromise a fully-patched Windows 7 system at the recent Pwn2Own competition, so Microsoft will still be hard at working patching Internet Explorer.

One thing is increasingly clear with each passing exploit--organizations need to abandon Internet Explorer 6 as soon as possible, and make the switch from Windows XP to Windows 7. Windows 7 and IE* are not impervious--as illustrated by the Pwn2Own contest, but attacking IE6--especially when its running on Windows XP--is just trivial at this point.

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies . He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW . You can follow him on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com .

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Topics: security, Microsoft, Internet Explorer
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
Use WhistleOut's technology to compare:
Mobile phone plans & deals
Mobile phone models
Mobile phone carriers
Broadband plans & deals
Broadband providers
Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?