Microsoft Corp urged Windows users on Monday to install a free piece of security software to protect PCs from a newly discovered bug in the Internet Explorer browser.
The security flaw, which researchers say could allow hackers to take remote control of an infected PC, affects Internet Explorer browsers used by hundreds of millions of consumers and workers. Microsoft said it will advise customers on its website to install the security software as an interim measure, buying it time to fix the bug and release a new, more secure version of Internet Explorer.
The free security tool, which is known as the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, or EMET, is available on Microsoft’s website: http://bit.ly/Kv497S
Eric Romang, a researcher in Luxembourg, discovered the flaw in Internet Explorer on Friday, when his PC was infected by a piece of malicious software known as Poison Ivy that hackers use to steal data or take remote control of PCs.
When he analyzed the infection, he learned that Poison Ivy had gotten on to his system by exploiting a previously unknown bug, or "zero-day" vulnerability, in Internet Explorer.
Full security advisory is here and only IE 7, 8, and 9 on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are known to be at risk. Internet Explorer 10 is apparently not a problem.
Frankly, EMET isn’t a magic shield and it’s a tool that only geeks can love. The bottom line from the above article:
Dave Marcus, director of advanced research and threat intelligence with Intel Corp’s McAfee security division, said it might be a daunting task for home users to locate, download and install the EMET tool.
"For consumers it might be easier to simply click on Chrome," Marcus said.
Business users will have their own problems with it too.
Microsoft today released an emergency patch for Internet Explorer versions back to version 5.01 to fix a gaping security hole that was being exploited so massively that security experts were recommending that people stop using Internet Explorer entirely until it was fixed. Since the bad guys were exploiting it before Microsoft knew it existed, the exploit is termed "zero day" because that is how much notice Microsoft got of the problem. It is also termed an "drive-by" exploit since a user could pick up a malware infestation by merely using IE to browse any of thousands of compromised websites. In short, it was really nasty stuff.
This security update resolves a publicly disclosed vulnerability. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.
This security update is rated Critical for Internet Explorer 5.01, Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, and Internet Explorer 7. For information about Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2, please see the section, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Related to This Security Update. For more information, see the subsection, Affected and Non-Affected Software, in this section.
Recommendation. Microsoft recommends that customers apply the update immediately.
Aside from the table of download locations listed at the above link, the emergency patch is also available through Windows Update and Microsoft Update.
Over the last week there have been a number of reports of automated SQL injection attacks on Web sites running Microsoft’s flagship IIS Web server. The Washington Post’s Brian Krebs summarizes them nicely in Hundreds of Thousands of Microsoft Web Servers Hacked.
It isn’t entirely clear whether there is actually a vulnerability in IIS or it’s just the usual problem of Web programmers not sanitizing user input, but Microsoft has issued a security advisory (951306) with workarounds.
Update: Microsoft’s Bill Sisk says that the problem is due to poor Web programming practices and not any IIS vulnerability and also that security advisory 951306 is for a different problem.
Anand, a Microsoft security program manager reveals via the Inside Windows Live Messenger blog that Microsoft is forcing Live Messenger users to upgrade to version 8.1 before any further usage due to a security exposure in earlier versions.