What's the price of a new Windows 8 zero-day vulnerability?

French security company Vupen is selling a vulnerability in Microsoft's latest operation system and browser

It's not exactly the type of advertisement most people would understand.

For sale: "Our first 0day for Win8+IE10 with HiASLR/AntiROP/DEP & Prot Mode sandbox bypass (Flash not needed)." It's part of a recent message on Twitter from Vupen, a French company that specializes in finding vulnerabilities in widely used software from companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Oracle.

Vupen occupies a grayish area of computer security research, selling vulnerabilities to vetted parties in governments and companies but not sharing the details with affected software vendors. The company advocates that its information helps organizations defend themselves from hackers, and in some cases, play offense as well.

Vupen has found a problem somewhere in Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system and its Internet Explorer 10 browser. The flaw has not been publicly disclosed or fixed by the company yet.

Vupen's finding is one of the first issues for Windows 8, released last week, and Internet Explorer 10, although vulnerabilities have since been found in other third-party software that runs on the Windows 8.

Dave Forstrom, Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing director, said the company encourages researchers to participate in its Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure program, which asks that people give it time to fix the software problem before publicly disclosing it.

"We saw the tweet, but further details have not been shared with us," Forstrom said in a statement.

Vupen's Twitter message, written on Wednesday, implies the vulnerability would allow a hacker to bypass security technologies contained within Windows 8, including high-entropy Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), anti-Return Oriented Programming and DEP (data execution prevention) measures. The company also indicates it is not dependent on a problem with Adobe System's Flash multimedia program.

"Certainly, if the bug is confirmed, then this could be a black eye for Microsoft having their brand new and touted most secure platform already found flawed just after its public release," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle.

The market opportunity for a successful exploit may be limited due to the recent release of Windows 8, but "on the other hand, nobody has confirmed this bug isn't also functional on older version of Windows or IE," Storms said.

Jody Melbourne, a penetration tester and senior consultant with the Sydney-based Australian security company HackLabs, said the vulnerability could be useful to hackers targeting, for example, third-party Microsoft developers and interested in stealing code-signing certificates or source code.

So what's the vulnerability worth? It's hard to say. Vupen doesn't publish a public price list. But Melbourne said "the value of the bug will only increase with time, of course, the longer Vupen sits on it and if no one else stumbles upon it."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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 Microsoftoperating systemssoftwareWindowsWindows 8Exploits / vulnerabilitiesDesktop securityVupen

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

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

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?