Vista stricken by embarrassing gadget hole

Today's weather? Flawed

Security vendor Finjan has claimed the credit for spotting an embarrassing flaw in Windows Vista, which Microsoft only patched this week in its monthly updates.

The exploit involves one of the most apparently innocent elements of Vista, namely the sidebar 'gadgets' whereby users load one from a selection of small utilities on to the desktop. It turns out that three of these -- the contact, weather and RSS feed gadgets -- can be exploited to launch what is euphemistically called a 'remote execution attack', a technical term describing the ability of an attacker to gain control of an affected PC.

Finjan's part of the discovery relates to the contact gadget, and the company has offered a video demonstration detailing how the exploit might work in practice. As the abridged video makes clear, the attack would require only that a user had the affected gadget loaded on the sidebar, and carried out the actions described of innocently accepting a spoof contact from a compromised website.

In its Patch Tuesday cycle, Microsoft listed the flaws as 'important' in its security bulletin, one below the most severe rating, 'critical'. The vulnerability was the only one in either category to affect only Vista, with such issues still being a rarity seven months after the operating system's consumer launch.

Rare, perhaps, but not unheard of. Only last week, news emerged of a problem in a third-party Vista driver module that could allow unsigned and potentially malevolent drivers to gain access to the Vista kernel, its most protected ring.

"This discovery is the latest example of the close cooperation between our Malicious Code Research Center and Microsoft with the goal of securing users from potential malicious attacks," crowed Finjan CTO Yuval Ben-Itzhak. It has not been disclosed who found the flaws in the other two gadgets.

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.

John E. Dunn

Techworld.com
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

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?