Feeds

MS Zero-day security bug was two years in the making

Fix only followed exploit

Security for virtualized datacentres

A flaw in Office Web Components which Microsoft fixed on Tuesday was first reported to the software giant over two years ago, it has emerged.

The time taken to release a patch has security vendors speculating that Redmond's security gnomes only got around to fixing the software flaw at all because hackers have begun exploiting it over recent weeks.

The arrival of the MS09-043 patch addressed a zero-day flaw that had become the fodder of drive-by download attacks from malicious web pages. The patch addressed four vulnerabilities in Office ActiveX control in total, including the zero-day flaw. Users previously had to rely on workarounds published by Microsoft in a July advisory.

The 0day security bug was discovered by researcher Peter Vreugdenhil and first reported to Microsoft in March 2007 via the TippingPoint's Zero Day initiative scheme, which pays researchers for security exploits.

TippingPoint uses this information to add signature detection against exploits based on the bug to its intrusion protection products. It also passes along the information to the relevant software developers, in this case Microsoft.

Responding to question on the long delay, ZDI manager Pedram Amini told heise Security, "they [Microsoft] kept finding the need for more time to ensure the issue was completely addressed".

TippingPoint is not one to rush vendors in general. Other security vendors, such as F-secure, remain puzzled about why the fix was so long in development.

A list of pending notifications from TippingPoint reveals that many vendors are yet to release fixes for "high" severity flaws a year after they were notified of a problem. Five such flaws are queued with Redmond, but Microsoft is in good company. CA, HP, IBM, Symantec, Mozilla and Adobe are also yet to release fixes for serious flaws they were informed about more than a year ago. ®

Bootnote

The buggy component in question here is a spreadsheet ActiveX control. The issue shouldn't be confused with Microsoft's patch for a buggy video ActiveX control, released in July. That update also addressed a zero-day bug but one Microsoft had known about for only a year, compared to two years in the latest case.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.