With Web attacks increasing, Microsoft fixes IE bug

Microsoft has released a critical patch for its IE browser.

Security experts say that Web surfers should immediately install a new bug-fix for Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, released Wednesday morning.

The flaw, which was accidentally made public by Chinese security researchers just over a week ago, has been used in a growing number of Web-based attacks over the past few days. Criminals have posted attack code that exploits this flaw on thousands of Web sites so far, according to Rick Howard, intelligence director with Verisign's iDefense group. Verisign has now seen six variants of the attack software, all of which attempt to steal Chinese online gaming credentials.

Often the attack is launched through a hidden iFrame component that is surreptitiously put on a Web site. Verisign has even spotted one such iFrame attack on a legitimate financial institution's Web site, Howard said. "The volume of iFrames deploying this thing is really high."

The flaw lies in the way Internet Explorer's data-binding function works, Microsoft said. When the browser is attacked it will crash, corrupting the computer's memory and allowing the criminal to run unauthorized software.

Because Internet Explorer is used by about 70 percent of Web surfers, this attack code will probably show up in widely used malicious software toolkits "very shortly," Howard said.

Other security companies agreed with Verisign's assessment. "Microsoft's latest IE out-of-band patch release needs to be installed right away," said Shavlik Technologies in a statement. "The number of infected Web sites is growing at an alarming rate -- even people visiting legitimate Web sites are getting hacked with this exploit."

The flaw is so serious, in fact, that Microsoft took the unusual step of issuing its security fix weeks ahead of schedule. Typically Microsoft releases security patches just once a month in order to simplify the lives of system administrators. Its next set of updates is due Jan. 13.

Criminals could also launch their attacks via e-mail, by sending victims maliciously encoded HTML documents, although this type of attack has not been reported.

According to Microsoft Australia, the impact on Australian customers has been "minimal".

Microsoft's patch is for users of IE version 5 and up.

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 Internet Explorer

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

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?