New attack fells Internet Explorer

The zero-day flaw is unreliable, but Symantec expects reliable exploits in the 'near future'

A hacker has posted attack code that could be used to break into a PC running older versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

The code was posted Friday to the Bugtraq mailing list by an unidentified hacker. According to security vendor Symantec, the code does not always work properly, but it could be used to install unauthorized software on a victim's computer.

"Symantec has conducted further tests and confirmed that it affects Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7," the company wrote on its Web site Saturday.

"We expect that a fully-functional reliable exploit will be available in the near future."

Security consultancy Vupen Security has also confirmed that the attack works, saying it worked on a Windows XP Service Pack 3 system running IE 6 or IE7. Neither company was able to confirm that the attack worked on Microsoft's latest browser, IE 8.

Symantec did not report that the attack is being used by cyber-criminals, but because Internet Explorer is so popular, this type of code is highly coveted by hackers.

If the software does pop up in online attacks, it will put pressure on Microsoft to rush out an emergency patch, ahead of its regularly scheduled Dec. 8 security update. Microsoft could not be reached Saturday for a comment on the issue.

Together, IE 6 and IE 7 command close to 40 percent of the browser market.

The flaw lies in the way Internet Explorer retrieves certain Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) objects, used to create a standardized layout on Web pages.

For the attack to work, the hacker would have to lure a victim to a Web page that contained maliciously encoded JavaScript, Symantec said. This technique has emerged as a favorite way for hackers to install their malicious software on computers in recent years.

"To minimize the chances of being affected by this issue, Internet Explorer users should ensure their antivirus definitions are up to date, disable JavaScript and only visit Web sites they trust until fixes are available from Microsoft," Symantec said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags exploits and vulnerabilitiesweb browserssecurityInternet Explorer

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

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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?