New IE Zero-Day attack surfaces

Browser vulnerability could allow remote code execution by hackers

Microsoft, in a security advisory released this week, is warning users of an Internet Explorer vulnerability that could allow remote code execution by hackers. The security breach can be accessed on XP, Vista and Windows 7 systems running Internet Explorer 6,7 and 8.

According to the advisory, "The vulnerability exists due to an invalid flag reference within Internet Explorer. It is possible under certain conditions for the invalid flag reference to be accessed after an object is deleted. In a specially-crafted attack, in attempting to access a freed object, Internet Explorer can be caused to allow remote code execution."

If the vulnerability was exploited, hackers could completely take over a target's computer to access a network system and install additional malware.

Microsoft states that it is working on a fix and has suggested a workaround for the possible breach, which can be found here.  

In a blog entry discussing to the vulnerability, Jerry Bryant, group manager of response communications in the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Group, said that Microsoft acted quickly when the malicious code had been pinpointed to a single Web site. "When a Web site is discovered to host malicious software, we work through legal channels to take the site down," wrote Bryant. "These kinds of attempts to exploit systems and the people using technology are the activity of criminals. Microsoft takes this very seriously and where possible, we will take legal action against those responsible."

In addition to the workaround provided by Microsoft, Bryant suggests that all applicable software be up-to-date and that firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus programs are up and running.  

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the associate Web editor for 1105 Enterprise Computing Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, ADTmag.com and VirtualizationReview.com.

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