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Sunday,October 13,2019


Microsoft Fixing IE Security Hole Exploited by Chinese Cyber Hacks

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 On the 15th of December 2009, Chinese cyber criminals exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to launch attacks on many international organizations including Google and Adobe. Several versions of Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 are said to sport this security loophole and Microsoft has now released an advisory to mitigate this threat until they can have a security patch ready for public distribution.

According to Microsoft’s official security advisory, "The vulnerability exists as an invalid pointer reference within Internet Explorer. It is possible under certain conditions for the invalid pointer 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."
Rumors of Microsoft releasing an out of band security patch have been making the rounds all of last week, but Microsoft has put them to rest by confirming that the patch will be released before 9th February, the otherwise scheduled date for the next patch release.
Till then, Microsoft says the immediate move to defend your computer against such an attack is to upgrade to IE 8. IE 8's data execution prevention feature supposedly prevents the execution of an injected shell code on the computer. However, techniques to bypass this additional level of security currently exist and are publicly known.
Upgrade to IE 8 Will Not Solve the Problem
Richie Lai, Director of Vulnerability Research at Qualys, says that "While DEP has been proven to stop exploits like this, there are known ways to bypass DEP if you can get code running. This is where the second mitigating factor comes in, Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR). On platforms where both DEP and ASLR are enabled, exploitation is extremely difficult."
ASLR is a security feature that prevents the attacker from exploiting vulnerable programs by randomly arranging the program’s stack, heap and library address space. ASLR is currently a standard feature with Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7. However, Microsoft’s implementation of ASLR has also been questioned and criticized.
Moving to Other Browsers is Not a Permanent Solution
Security analysts around the world are actively prescribing a shift from IE to other browser options. These vulnerabilities have even led governments of countries such as Germany and France to advise their citizens to abandon IE and switch over to other options like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. This almost seems like a quintessential knee-jerk response to the current situation because users need to understand that a hacker with motivation and resources can find vulnerabilities in any Internet browser solution.
Security in today’s world needs to be implemented bottom-up from the grassroots level, which means higher level of data encryption storage on the local drives. For instance, Google has adopted a more secure encrypted HTTPS protocol for their web mail services. After all, an anti-virus software can only protect a system against known malware. And it only takes one customized piece of malicious software to infiltrate a system and the network it is connected to.

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