Feeds

Critical Windows vulnerability under attack, Microsoft warns

Drive-by web exploits possible

Reducing security risks from open source software

Microsoft has warned of a critical security bug in older versions of its Windows operating system that is already being exploited in the wild to remotely execute malware on vulnerable machines.

The vulnerability in a Windows component known as DirectX is being targeted using booby-trapped QuickTime files, which when parsed can allow attackers to gain complete control of a computer. Because many browsers are designed to automatically play video, people can be compromised simply by visiting a site serving malicious files. Vista, Windows Server 2008 and the beta version of Windows 7 are not affected, and neither is Apple's QuickTime player, Microsoft said.

Microsoft has offered several work-arounds until a patch is available. The most straight-forward of them involves visiting this link and clicking on the "Fix it" icon. (We got an error when using Firefox, but it worked fine with Internet Explorer.) Several additional fixes are available on the work-arounds section here. The installation of QuickTime doesn't protect Windows users from being compromised.

The vulnerability exists in the way a DirectX application programming interface known as DirectShow handles supported QuickTime files. By manipulating the format, attackers can gain the same system privileges assigned to the logged-in user. Since Microsoft doesn't make it easy on users who log in to limited accounts, the vulnerability means most people using 2000, XP and Server 2003 versions of Windows are at risk of losing complete control of their machines.

Vista and later versions of Windows aren't affected because the vulnerable QuickTime parser filter was removed from them.

Microsoft was vague about the real-world attacks targeting the flaw except to say it "is aware of limited, active attacks that use this exploit code." It said it is sharing additional details with company partners through its Microsoft Active Protections Program, which was announced in August.

Microsoft has additional information here and here. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.