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Microsoft Security The Internet Technology

Microsoft To Issue Emergency IE Patch 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft will release its emergency patch for Internet Explorer on Thursday, the company said, as it also admitted that attacks can be hidden inside rigged Office documents. 'We are planning to release the update as close to 10:00 a.m. PST as possible,' said Jerry Bryant, a program manager with the IE group. Microsoft has updated the security advisory it originally published last week when it acknowledged a zero-day IE vulnerability had been used by hackers to break into the corporate networks of Google and other major Western companies. Google has alleged that the attacks were launched by Chinese attackers. Subsequently, security experts have offered evidence that links the attacks to China."
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Microsoft To Issue Emergency IE Patch

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  • Yikes (Score:4, Informative)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:10AM (#30844790) Homepage

    Affected Software
    Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
    Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3
    Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2
    Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2
    Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
    Windows Server 2003 with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems
    Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and Windows Vista Service Pack 2
    Windows Vista x64 Edition, Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 1, and Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 2
    Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems and Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2
    Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems and Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service pack 2
    Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems and Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 2
    Windows 7

    "Windows 7: with multi-core optimisations and improved app performance, be compromised faster than ever before!"

    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      I have Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Edition. Did you forget to copy that part of the list or have my early-adoption habits finally been rewarded? If so then at last all the years of no driver support, software incompatibility and system instability were worth it!
      • Re:Yikes (Score:5, Funny)

        by goldaryn (834427) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:32AM (#30844960) Homepage

        I have Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Edition. Did you forget to copy that part of the list or have my early-adoption habits finally been rewarded? If so then at last all the years of no driver support, software incompatibility and system instability were worth it!

        Windows 7 for x64-based Systems
        Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems
        Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems
        Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
        Internet Explorer 6 for Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems, and Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems, and Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows Vista x64 Edition, Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 1, and Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems and Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems and Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems and Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, and Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Windows Vista x64 Edition, Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 1, and Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems and Windows Server 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems and Windows Server 2008 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 2
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 for 32-bit Systems
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 for x64-based Systems
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems
        Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based Systems
        Non-Affected Software
        Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4

        Hahahaha. Take that Firefox/Chrome/Opera users! I'm running Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4! SucNO CARRIER

    • by toleraen (831634)
      Wow, you found a patch that affects most of Microsoft's Operating Systems. Rare indeed. [microsoft.com]
    • Seems to me that if one doesn't open unknown documents from untrusted sources, one is probably pretty well protected from this. Though if you leave the default settings in place - to allow documents to be opened inside of your web browser- then you'd be vulnerable via iframes and malicious advert content. (Actually ... is that still the default setting in IE?)
      • by tuxgeek (872962)

        Social engineered malware is a bitch
        I know someone that downloaded and opened one of those flashy virus cleaning apps off the internet
        Then was puzzled when her system went screwy

        You can't patch stupid

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Seems to me that if one doesn't open unknown documents from untrusted sources, one is probably pretty well protected from this. Though if you leave the default settings in place - to allow documents to be opened inside of your web browser- then you'd be vulnerable via iframes and malicious advert content. (Actually ... is that still the default setting in IE?)

          Social engineered malware is a bitch
          I know someone that downloaded and opened one of those flashy virus cleaning apps off the internet
          Then was puzzled

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
          Remember Fanbois, blame the victim!

          At some point, some where, you really do look pretty dumb trying to blame all the flaws on everyone else but Microsoft.

          I reached the point of not defending them some time ago. You may take longer. If it makes you feel better to defend them, have at it. But you sound like Audi engineers trying to blame the owners of their cars when the electronics failed and the throttles went wide open.

          But if I were to use your logic, the best way to blame the victim is to note that

    • Re:Yikes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted @ s l a s h d ot.org> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:59AM (#30845176)

      Looks like a basic architectural problem. Or else it would nor persist as long, trough so many changes.

      No need to bash MS on top of the usual, because Win7 still has it. Think of a basic core library that just works since back then and does not need changing. You overlooked something, and someone found a way that you did no think about.
      That’s normal, an can happen to anyone.

      It’s usually not the bugs that are the problem. Everything has bugs.
      It’s the way MS handles fixing them. With massive denial, attacking others for mentioning it, and then a very very late, half-assed patch that needs another patch to patch the patch.
      That’s the real problem.

      Would MS just have a normal bugzilla, and in the normal case quickly fix the important bugs, I would have no problem with that. Mozilla does it just like that. And even Mozilla has a couple of long-standing bugs. I guess every big software has them. Because every software has a base architecture that you can only re-build every so many years in the complete rewrite. So bugs that don require that architecture to change can’t simply be fixed.
      Oh, that reminds me, that for IE, that rewrite is long overdue. That’s the reason there are so many big bugs in there. But I don’t see MS doing a complete rewrite, unless they are forced to completely throw away the old Trident engine.

      • Yeah. Whatever. I'm waiting for someone to clone NTKernel. Just think, Windows XP - Open Source version. Hey - they did it with NTFS, just a little more work, and we can have the kernel.

        Seriously - XP might be a decent system, if it were released OPEN SOURCE, so that people are motivated to contribute vulnerabilities and fixes.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah. Whatever. I'm waiting for someone to clone NTKernel. Just think, Windows XP - Open Source version. Hey - they did it with NTFS, just a little more work, and we can have the kernel.

          Seriously - XP might be a decent system, if it were released OPEN SOURCE, so that people are motivated to contribute vulnerabilities and fixes.

          That already exists: ReactOS [reactos.org].

        • by Orbijx (1208864) *

          Erm.
          Isn't that the goal of ReactOS [reactos.org]?

          I may be wrong, but it's a shot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So my father-in-law who's still on Windows ME is safe then?

    • by 3vi1 (544505)
      "One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities." - Bill Gates, 1998 memo to Office product group.
  • It should have been called a band-aid (over a gaping hole in the chest cavity.)
  • by Distan (122159) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:14AM (#30844814)

    Reat that the attack targeted Perforce repositories. Haven't heard if any other source control systems were targeted.

    Pretty clever way to gather intellectual property; I'd never considered it before, but for many companies if you can download their repository data then you have their crown jewels.

  • Define Emergency (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sipatha (1162265)
    Is it still an emergency since its been some time now since the vulnerability was made public? The best patch is to use a different browser
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:19AM (#30844854) Journal

    "Microsoft will release its emergency patch for Internet Explorer on Thursday, the company said as it also admitted that attacks can be hidden inside rigged Office documents. '

    Now to be 100% compatible with Microsoft Office, the OpenOffice developers have to work day and night to get this bug/hole/exploit to work exactly the same way in OpenOffice too. I have heard OpenOffice people bitch and moan, "Microsoft keeps changing file formats and APIs deliberately forcing us to do so much of work catching up", now I sympathize. I understand how difficult it would be to code up a gaping security hole that works exactly like it does in the De-Facto Standard.

    That brings up another issue. The ISO committee now has to redo the standards to allow this exploit into the OOXML-is-standard-too document. But fortunately the 6000 page standard definition was already in the form of a doc file with this specially crafted backdoor in place. So Microsoft was able to step in, do the modification needed, and set the flags to erase all evidence of the edit and exit. The committee chairman Soldou Tothem expressed his gratitude to Microsoft and complimented their foresight in incorporating such back doors into the standards document.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      You almost made me cry...
    • Now to be 100% compatible with Microsoft Office, the OpenOffice developers have to work day and night to get this bug/hole/exploit to work exactly the same way in OpenOffice too. I have heard OpenOffice people bitch and moan, "Microsoft keeps changing file formats and APIs deliberately forcing us to do so much of work catching up", now I sympathize. I understand how difficult it would be to code up a gaping security hole that works exactly like it does in the De-Facto Standard.

      No, the OpenOffice developers

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:19AM (#30844856)

    ....I've already moved on to using Firefox 3.5.7 and Chrome 3.0.195.38 as my primary web browsers. The reason is simple: IE 8.0 is dog slow at times in web page rendering.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wish MS would make a version of IE that ran in the popular Linux distros without emulation, then I could use it and be vulnerable as well.

    • IE8 isn't really slow at rendering. It's mostly that its JS implementation sucks, both raw execution speed (it's an interpreter, not even bytecode AFAIK), and DOM manipulation. Hence it works fine on static sites, but anything heavily Web-2.0ish, like Slashdot, kills it real fast.

  • by thijsh (910751) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:20AM (#30844860) Journal
    It only shows that warnings are never heeded when coming from the insiders and professionals. It takes global companies and several countries to ring the bell for MS to step up and patch exploits faster...
    It's not really news that lots of exploits could (and probably were) abused for espionage (both corporate and international). But only now that 'teh evil chinese' are happily hacking along some action is taken.
    This is exactly the kind of problem that could be avoided by listening to security experts.

    Thanks M$ for giving a crap about the security of users, companies and countries... You're a few years too late stepping up the game, but please keep it up, we might as well have security as an afterthought instead of no security at all.
  • stolen source (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikem170 (698970) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:20AM (#30844862) Homepage
    Microsoft source code is out there somewhere - some was stolen and out on the internet at one point. Isn't some of it also available to certain partners? It wouldn't surprise me if these hacker groups had copies of the source code and a library of exploits to use that nobody else knows about.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft source code is out there somewhere - some was stolen and out on the internet at one point. Isn't some of it also available to certain partners? It wouldn't surprise me if these hacker groups had copies of the source code and a library of exploits to use that nobody else knows about.

      Are you suggesting that having access to the source code makes it easier for these hacker groups to find exploits?

      Better keep that kind of blasphemy to yourself. It won't make you many friends around these parts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It merely shows yet another weak point in closed source development model -- if the code is leaked or given to bad guys, they can thoroughly analyze and exploit it while good guys can't do anything about it -- they have no legal means to obtain and analyze the code.
        Open source development model does not, of course, have such issues with source code in the wild. Black hats can look at the code in both cases, but open development model is better because it easily allows white hats to have a good look too.

        Yet

    • Re:stolen source (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @10:32AM (#30845536)
      Microsoft has given the Chinese government preferential access to the Windows Source code [cnet.com]. They even set up a lab of security researchers to look for vulnerabilities [cnet.com] in the code. I don't think leaks onto the internet have anything to do with it. It's kind of like all the possible disadvantages of OSS with none of the advantages.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Microsoft has given the Chinese government preferential access to the Windows Source code. They even set up a lab of security researchers to look for vulnerabilities in the code. I don't think leaks onto the internet have anything to do with it. It's kind of like all the possible disadvantages of OSS with none of the advantages.

        So essentially, it's NSA vs. China's group in a bughunt competition, and few if none of our "allies" can help, including MS.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          The MoD in the UK has had access to the Windows sourcecode since at least NT4, and so GCHQ probably has people looking at it too. Note, however, that this license does not give them the right to compile their own binaries, so even if they find a bug, they can't fix it. All they can do is use it to attack other people, while remaining vulnerable to it. Makes you wonder why they still use Windows, really.
      • Microsoft has given the Chinese government preferential access to the Windows Source code

        It's not "preferential". Any government can get Windows source code for security analysis under the Government Security Program [microsoft.com] - it's just that Chinese were the first to jump on that bandwagon (it should be noted that there were similar programs in place before GSP, so China was only the first in GSP, not the first to get access to Windows source code in general).

        Also, universities can (and do) get access to the source code [microsoft.com] for study and research purposes.

        • It's not "preferential". Any government can get Windows source code for security analysis under the Government Security Program [microsoft.com]

          It's preferential over my company which (like most others) does not have this access and cannot use that as a benefit.

          - it's just that Chinese were the first to jump on that bandwagon (it should be noted that there were similar programs in place before GSP, so China was only the first in GSP, not the first to get access to Windows source code in general).

          I'm fully aware that the NSA also had preferential treatment (look up "NSA Key" on Google some day) and that any other government can now arrange the same in principle. However, apart from the US, where Microsoft comes from, this was not previously being extended to other places. Then China started threatening to use Linux and the source code access was set up specifically for them. It's

          • It's preferential over my company which (like most others) does not have this access and cannot use that as a benefit.

            Well, my point was that China in particular didn't get preferential treatment. Government organizations in general do, yes, but there are still many of them (note that a particular government organization may also get the code for its own internal use, not necessarily the government as a whole).

            Also, there is a similar program for companies [microsoft.com]. It would cost you a lot (since you need to have 1500 licensed Window seats under an "enterprise" support agreement - I don't think you'll need the actual physical seats

  • More information about this story can be found here [slashdot.org].

  • by magamiako1 (1026318) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @10:17AM (#30845370)
    From my understanding, every version of IE is vulnerable to the exploit, however not every install of IE is vulnerable. There are claims that "IE8 with DEP on" is vulnerable, but it says nothing about the combination of DEP and UAC.

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9145958/Researchers_up_ante_create_exploits_for_IE7_IE8?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=2

    Essentially, if you're using back versions of the operating system and don't keep updated, you're vulnerable. What makes this exploit different from a lot of others is that it has such a large attack surface. However, from what I'm gathering, the default Windows 7 install with IE8 should be safe from any attacks. As soon as you start disabling technologies (UAC, DEP)--you will run into problems.
    • If only they would stop issuing patches and updates for IE6 and earlier, then we could get on with dropping all support, everywhere, for this POS browser.

      • With this I completely agree. I furthermore think they should completely discontinue support for Windows XP. I'm at a huge fight in our organization at the moment regarding the move to Windows 7. I'm getting met with a lot of resistance when we don't actually have an excuse to stick on XP. We already pay for the licensing for 7....
    • However, from what I'm gathering, the default Windows 7 install with IE8 should be safe from any attacks. As soon as you start disabling technologies (UAC, DEP)--you will run into problems.

      Incorrect. As it is, UAC does not seem to stop various "visit a site" .NET/Active X exploits that Microsoft claims they have finally (6th time) fixed. Nor does DEP prevent them. Nor does the combination of the two...

      ..."oddly" enough, UAC does often prevent some updates unless a user confirms them... unless they are automatic, and use the same exploit method used by some of the malware out there.

      Thus, IE7 and IE8 on Vista or Win7, even on the default configurations, is still vulnerable. Something even M

      • Do you have any proof showing that UAC and Protected Mode does not guard against this exploit or others? So far from the security researchers, I've only read very specific conditions under the latest systems that it's a problem.

        Knowing what I've read about the various security contests, the only thing that needs to be done is execute code as the user.

        But what limited scope is this? Does the vulnerability get contained within the Low profile of IE? If it drops files in there, who gives a damn? Even if it can
        • Do you have any proof showing that UAC and Protected Mode does not guard against this exploit or others? So far from the security researchers, I've only read very specific conditions under the latest systems that it's a problem.

          Oh, so you have already read about conditions where this happens? Guess I dont have to answer this one then, do I?

          Besides, I already gave you an example earlier. But just for shits and giggles, here's one that references the chances at 1% on IE8/Vista or IE8/Win7:

          DEP Bypassed [technet.com]

          Now, while 1% seems a trivial number, it is actually quite large when installed base is taken into account... or only a few million machines.

          Then add to that, such an exploit can be attempted multiple times on a machine, which

          • All you've linked to was DEP being bypassed. That's fair enough. But DEP is not UAC.

            All an exploit has to do to is execute on the system to be considered working. But code that's executing at all is a far cry from code that's executing with Administrative privileges.

            If this weren't the case, there wouldn't be such a huge push in the linux world for users to "never run as root".

            I'm not downplaying that the browser was vulnerable, it very clearly was. What I'm trying to make a point of is that when you use IE
            • All you've linked to was DEP being bypassed. That's fair enough. But DEP is not UAC.

              Just use Google... "UAC being bypassed exploit"

              Due to the elevated COM object which controls UAC being on the whitelist (list ... just the Windows ones and the ones that bypass the prompts via exploits. ...

              Hmmm... smell like the recent .NET exploit that I already mentioned 3 times in these threads?

              Yes, the majority of the issues are probably user error.

              That's not my issue at hand... people who claim that UAC and DEP are inpenetratable are my issue. They are not. They have been exploited numerous times in the past. Microsoft keeps releasing shoddy patches that do not address the underlying faults in the architecture of them. Thus this problem will never reall

              • Despite all of your ranting on the .NET exploits that you're talking about, you have yet to provide me any links to any information on any .NET exploits that bypass UAC.

                With regards to the UAC mechanism "exploits", kicking UAC to the highest level in 7 (which is the default in Vista) prevents these sorts of attacks from escalating silently. In fact, any of the posts that talk about it should certainly tell you this.

                The problem is not an underlying structure issue with UAC and more to do with the fact that U
                • Or you can learn to use Google. They are there. Or search Slashdot. It's there too. Or simply search through Microsoft's HotFix lists and such for .NET. They have an entire page devoted to it.

                  So, at this point, with the evidence SO easily findable, I think you just have no interest in reality. Good luck with that.

  • by Judebert (147131) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @10:35AM (#30845578) Homepage

    As I recall, the Chinese government has access to the Windows source code [cnet.com]. Google's been claiming that the Chinese government launched the attacks, and security experts have backed them up. The obvious conclusion is that having the source gave the Chinese government the opportunity to develop a new attack against Windows.

    While some might see this as an argument against Open Source security products, I see exactly the opposite. The closed source made it possible for the only party with the source to gain an advantage. In products where the source is available to everyone, there is no advantage to any party. Therefore the holes are found and sealed, instead of left to fester, like this one was.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jmorkel (952809)
      Microsoft was right! Open source is a security risk!
    • by maxume (22995)

      "having the source gave the Chinese government the opportunity to develop a new attack against Windows" is not an obvious conclusion. Debugging tools are good enough to walk right through algorithms, and stuff like fuzz testing means that you can throw huge amounts of bad data at various functionality and see what it chokes on (rather than doing careful analysis of the source code).

    • In products where the source is available to everyone, there is no advantage to any party.

      Not quite; in that case, the advantage is to parties which can afford to allocate more resources to perform a security analysis of said code. Even if you personally were handed the complete source code of Windows, I doubt you'd be able to uncover and fix security flaws faster than Chinese government hackers can.

    • As I recall, the Chinese government has access to the Windows source code [cnet.com]. Google's been claiming that the Chinese government launched the attacks, and security experts have backed them up. The obvious conclusion is that having the source gave the Chinese government the opportunity to develop a new attack against Windows.

      While some might see this as an argument against Open Source security products, I see exactly the opposite. The closed source made it possible for the only party with the source to gain an advantage. In products where the source is available to everyone, there is no advantage to any party. Therefore the holes are found and sealed, instead of left to fester, like this one was.

      While that may have made it easier for them, it does not explain the numerous hackers and script kiddies who have managed to compromise IE7/8 and Vista/Win7 security, even on default configurations; as they did not have access to the source code.

      The rest, though I agree with ("holes are found and sealed, etc") is also contingent on other factors when Microsoft is involved.
      (1) Holes are only "sealed" when enough media attention is drawn to them - otherwise it's when Microsoft gets around to it, if ever.
      (

  • Is it just me or does the following make sense in a "no, I'm not that paranoid" paranoid sort of way?

    Google has alleged that the attacks were launched by Chinese attackers. Subsequently, security experts have offered evidence that links the attacks to China."

    Google: Hey! We think the Chinese did this!
    Security Experts (so-called): Hey! You're right! In fact, we now have evidence that the Chinese did this heinous crime!
    Google: Wait! We think that someone in Poland helped out!
    SE(S-C): Hey! By golly, you're right again! In fact, we have even more evidence that the Chinese were helped by those crafty Poles!
    Google: Wait! We think that the same dudes w

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