Feeds

MS confirms 'F1 to pwn' IE bug

Looking for help can be dangerous

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched Internet Explorer vulnerability makes it potentially dangerous to press F1 if you are running earlier versions of Windows.

A security bug in the VBScript technology bundled with Internet Explorer means that it might be possible to create a web site that displays a specially crafted dialog box that pushes malware providing a victim is tricked into pressing the F1 (help menu) key while viewing a booby-trapped site using Internet Explorer. The novel exploit technique works on older versions of Windows (Win 2000, XP and Server 2003). As previously reported, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 are immune.

Proof of concept code is reportedly in circulation but Microsoft said: “We are not aware of attacks that try to use the reported vulnerabilities or of customer impact at this time.”

Redmond went on to criticise security researchers for not coming to them with the problem first in an advisory, published on Monday.

“Microsoft is concerned that this new report of a vulnerability was not responsibly disclosed, potentially putting computer users at risk. We continue to encourage responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. We believe the commonly accepted practice of reporting vulnerabilities directly to a vendor serves everyone's best interests. This practice helps to ensure that customers receive comprehensive, high-quality updates for security vulnerabilities without exposure to malicious attackers while the update is being developed.”

The advisory expands on an earlier holding statement in providing a list of potentially vulnerable systems, a preliminary risk assessment and suggested workarounds. Redmond security gnomes are still investigating the flaw but a decision to develop a patch looks like a big odds-on favourite if past form holds true.

Microsoft gave no indication of when a patch might become available but the next scheduled Patch Tuesday is only six days away, cutting it very fine to develop, much less test, a fix. An April or even May update for IE seems more likely. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
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
'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

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.