Researcher reveals how IE flaw can turn your PC into a public file server

Black Hat conference: Exploit demo of IE flaw prompts Microsoft security notice.

In a live demonstration Wednesday at the Black Hat DC conference, a security consultant showed how it's possible to exploit a flaw in the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to remotely read files on the victim's local drive, prompting a security advisory from Microsoft.

The flaw, said to extend across all versions of Internet Explorer, is not subject to a patching fix, according to Jorge Luis Alvarez Medina, the Argentina-based security consultant with Core Security Technologies who elaborated on the attack technique during his demo. Indeed, Microsoft advised anyone concerned about the potential for this type of attack to run IE in "protected mode", a workaround that Medina also advised.

Black Hat's most notorious incidents: A quiz

Other workarounds in IE, according to Medina, would include setting "IE Network Protocol Lockdown," adjusting the security level setting for the Internet and Intranet Zones to "high," and disabling Active Scripting for the Internet and Intranet Zones with a custom setting.

But he also noted that since this attack appears to only work against IE, users might want to consider using "a different browser to navigate untrusted Web sites". Medina said it doesn't appear that the IE flaw is subject to patching because it encompasses design features related to how IE and Windows Explorer handle zone elevation, HTML code and MIME types. There are a few ways to instigate the attack, which is somewhat complex because you have to "string all of these features together to build an attack tool," Medina said. One method involves enticing the victim to click a link to a malicious Web site.

One weakness in IE is that it "doesn't behave consistently… when accessing the same resources," he pointed out. The exploit demonstrated by Medina basically involves "chaining the exploitation of a series of weak features." He said the dialog with Microsoft's security team about the exploit so far has indicated that Microsoft thinks this is not something it can fix because the flaw is so much a part of the fundamental design of the browser.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftInternet Explorerblack hat

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

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?