New IE bug causes concern

Security researchers are warning of a bug in Internet Explorer that could allow attackers to infect a PC by persuading a user to click on a Web image.

The vulnerability affects even Windows XP machines patched with Microsoft's security-oriented update, Service Pack 2 (SP2), making it the most serious hole discovered in SP2 to date.

IE versions 5.01, 5.5 and 6 aren't effective enough in the way they screen drag-and-drop events, allowing attackers to potentially slip code from the "Internet" zone to the local machine, according to researchers. In a demonstration posted online by a "white-hat" hacker using the Internet pseudonym http-equiv, who discovered the flaw, a user drags a graphic from one part of a Web page to another, and this action implants code in the user's startup folder, to be run the next time Windows launches.

The exploit could be simplified even further, making it more dangerous, according to IT security firm Secunia. "Though the (proof-of-concept) depends on the user performing a drag and drop event, it may potentially be rewritten to use a single click as user interaction instead," the firm said in its advisory.

In the absence of a fix from Microsoft, Secunia recommended users to disable active scripting or use a different browser. Instructions on disabling active scripting can be found on their Web site.

Secunia considers the bug "highly critical", but Microsoft doesn't agree -- the company said the exploit requires so much user interaction that it is effectively impossible to carry out. Microsoft hasn't issued a patch, but said it is continuing to investigate.

The reaction is similar to that received by an earlier bug discovered in SP2 shortly after its release. German security firm Heise Security warned that a new alert system warning users of potentially dangerous files could be bypassed.

In that case, most researchers -- including Heise itself -- said that an exploit would require an unrealistic degree of social engineering. "I think that Microsoft could have found a better solution that would cause less chance of 'mishaps', but it doesn't make it a vulnerability," said Secunia CTO Thomas Kristensen.

SP2 is designed to improve Windows security -- and Microsoft's reputation -- through extensive changes to Windows XP's default security settings, new security tools and a new patch management system. Because of the scale of the changes, which Microsoft admits are likely to break many existing applications, businesses say they are putting the service pack through a more rigorous testing procedure than with other service packs.

IT managers are mainly enthusiastic about SP2, but a significant minority say they have no plans to implement it, according to two recent surveys, one in the U.K., the other in the U.S. However, they are sanguine about the impact on applications, seeing it as the price you have to pay for added security.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Broersma

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?