Check digital certificates in IE, users cautioned

Internet Explorer (IE), Netscape Navigator and other browsers indicate when a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted transaction has been established, but the software doesn't indicate to whom the connection has been made. The flaws involve the way IE validates digital certificates through SSL.

Microsoft, which issued its own bulletin earlier, said there are two vulnerabilities.

IE sometimes verifies only that the server's SSL certificate was issued by a trusted root, but the certificate's server name and expiration date are not verified.

Even if the initial validation is made correctly, IE doesn't revalidate the certificate if a new SSL session is established with the same server during the same browser session.

Microsoft identified IE 4.0, 4.01, 5 and 5.01 as the versions that contain these flaws. It said the chances of these vunerabilities occurring are "fairly restricted" because an attacker would need to inflict a domain name system (DNS) "poisoning" -- redirecting a domain name to another server -- or physically replace a server to carry out these attacks.

The company also issued a patch for these versions of IE. Microsoft didn't return calls for additional comments by press time.

In CERT's advisory, the organisation advised users that, in addition to staying up-to-date on browser patches, they should check SSL connections before transmitting sensitive data. "DNS information is fundamentally insecure, and there are a variety of means by which an attacker can provide false or misleading DNS information," according to the advisory.

Users can look at certificate details within a browser after an SSL connection is established, and check that the certificate name belongs to the site to which they think they're sending data.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kathleen Ohlson

PC World

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

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.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?