Feeds

Microsoft scrambles to thwart new Internet Explorer 0-day attack

Patch Tuesday can't come soon enough

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Microsoft has pushed out a temporary fix to defend against a zero-day vulnerability that surfaced in attacks launched last week.

The security flaw (CVE-2012-4792) - which affects IE 6, 7 and 8 but not the latest versions of Microsoft's web browser software - allows malware to be dropped onto Windows PCs running the vulnerable software, providing, of course, that users can be tricked into visiting booby-trapped websites.

Redmond has released a temporary Fix It (easy-to-apply workaround) pending the development of a more comprehensive patch.

The flaw was initially discovered by security tools firm FireEye on the Council on Foreign Relations website on 27 December.

The attack had been running for at least a week, and perhaps longer, before it was detected. Retrospective analysis by Sophos suggests the same exploit was used on at least five additional websites, suggesting assaults using the bug are far from limited.

"While the assaults appeared to be targeting a small number of sites, there is no obvious link between the victims," noted Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos Canada, in a blog post. "Some are referring to this as a 'watering hole' attack*, but the evidence we have doesn't necessarily support that conclusion."

Security watchers advise either applying Redmond's workarounds, upgrading to IE 9 or using an alternative browser - at least until a proper patch becomes available. The next patch Tuesday is coming up on 8 January. This doesn't give Microsoft much time but given the high-profile nature of the vulnerability it's likely that Redmond will release a patch sooner rather than later. ®

* Watering hole attacks have become a feature of cyber-espionage attacks over recent months. Instead of infecting the website of a military contractor or government agency directly, hackers compromise the website of a third party that is frequently visited by users who also visit the targeted organisation. This might be the website of a local sports team or a site with content relevant to the core business of the targeted organisation, for example.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.