Print 65 comment(s) - last by MrPoletski.. on Dec 23 at 9:12 AM

A new security flaw discovered in Microsoft's Internet Explorer has the company and its customers losing much sleep

News broke in the security world earlier this week that a critical vulnerability had been found in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7.  The vulnerability could be used to take over computers and is known to be currently being used to steal passwords.

Rick Ferguson, a senior security adviser at security firm Trend Micro says thus far the hole has only been exploited to steal online game passwords, but the attacks could become much more serious for unpatched users.  He states, "It is inevitable that it will be adapted by criminals. It's just a question of modifying the payload the trojan installs."

The seriousness of the flaw was evidenced by Microsoft's rather public announcement of the vulnerability and panicked rush to develop a patch.  So-called "out-of-band" announcements from Microsoft are rare. 

In this case it made such an announcement, stating in a press release, "Microsoft teams worldwide have been working around the clock to develop a security update to help protect our customers.  Until the update is available, Microsoft strongly encourages customers to follow the Protect Your Computer Guidance at, which includes activating the Automatic Update setting in Windows to ensure that they receive the update as soon as it is available."

Microsoft has announced that it will have a patch for the vulnerability by 1800 GMT on 17 December, available via Windows Update.

Some experts have suggested that corporate and private users switch browsers, to an alternative such as Firefox, Opera, or Chrome until the security flaw is patched on affected systems.  Only Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 is vulnerable to this latest attack.

However, some security experts are cautioning that a switch may be equally problematic.  Says Graham Cluley, senior consultant with security firm Sophos, "Firefox has issued patches and Apple has too. Whichever browser you are using you have to keep it up to date.  People have to be prepared and willing to install security updates. That nagging screen asking if you want to update should not be ignored."

The report ironically follows fast on a report that Firefox is a dangerously vulnerable application for businesses.  Apple's Safari has also been blasted within the last year for poor security and patching

Even the security of major open source software, not a popular target for hackers who heavily use such software, was recently brought into question when a major encryption scheme was found to be broken.  All of these instances illustrating the growing challenge of computer security, the difficulty with being a market leader (and thus a mark), and need for diligence when it comes to patches and updates.

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Bit late?
By blowfish on 12/17/2008 1:05:40 PM , Rating: 3
I'm surprised that DT trailed the BBC by a good few hours on this story.

RE: Bit late?
By afkrotch on 12/17/2008 1:08:43 PM , Rating: 3
I find DT trails behind other sites by a few hours to days, while they at the same time are ahead of other sites by a few hours to days.

RE: Bit late?
By headbox on 12/17/2008 1:19:54 PM , Rating: 5
It takes time to read other news sites, then copy paste sections to make your own story.

RE: Bit late?
By Dreifort on 12/17/2008 1:56:10 PM , Rating: 5
Yahoo posted this story yesterday ;)

But it's Internet Explorer. I mean...really. Is this even news worthy?

RE: Bit late?
By on 12/17/08, Rating: -1
RE: Bit late?
By TheSpaniard on 12/17/2008 5:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
really last I checked my computers were used for things like x-ray crystallography and other data crunching and mind numbing tasks

YOU use it as a toy then so be it

PS: god can we force him to change his name? it drives me nuts when PS3 is attached to everything that flys from this person's keyboard

RE: Bit late?
By kmmatney on 12/18/2008 12:29:51 AM , Rating: 3
Woohoo! Another X-ray crystallographer!

RE: Bit late?
By TheSpaniard on 12/18/2008 11:03:45 AM , Rating: 2
we are far and few between arent we?

PS: I only do crystallography as confirmation of ligand-protein binding the rest of my life is stuck somewhere between assays and SDS-PAGE gells

RE: Bit late?
By YouInspireMe on 12/19/2008 4:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
Spaniard, I am going to save you alot of typing. In the future you can just cut and paste this;

"I want you to believe that I am smarter than you. I don't respect your intellect and will go to great length to impress you with my vocabulary."

RE: Bit late?
By menace on 12/19/2008 10:41:13 AM , Rating: 2
So you run folding@home and leave your computer running all the time. That makes you superior to the rest of us wasting our valuable FLOPS having fun.

RE: Bit late?
By MrPoletski on 12/23/2008 9:12:32 AM , Rating: 2
The guys obviously a crack head. don't feed the troll and the troll will starve here so head off elsewhere.

RE: Bit late?
By notolerance on 12/17/2008 6:33:50 PM , Rating: 4
Huh?!! You done what to the dog?!?!

RE: Bit late?
By MrPoletski on 12/23/2008 9:10:45 AM , Rating: 2
I find DT trails behind other sites by a few hours to days, while they at the same time are ahead of other sites by a few hours to days.

The chief editor of Dailytech is clearly from Gallifrey.

Is he a Doctor?

RE: Bit late?
By TomZ on 12/17/2008 1:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
Clicking through to the BBC article, it seems like this article is basically a copy-and-paste job from the BBC article. I guess that's the sad state of journalism these days - no value added.

Jason, how about adding in some technical information about the vulnerability? After all, the average reader at DT is more technologically sophisticated compared to the average BBC reader. Add some value!

RE: Bit late?
By spread on 12/17/2008 1:51:29 PM , Rating: 1
You can read about it in my blog. I'll copy pate off DT.... I mean write a story.

RE: Bit late?
By TomZ on 12/17/2008 1:59:03 PM , Rating: 5
Instead of being a series of "tubes," I tend to see the Internet as a series of mirrors - each original thought reflected countless times across numerous sites. I notice that a lot with news stories and blogs, as well as when examining search results.

RE: Bit late?
By theendofallsongs on 12/17/2008 3:23:29 PM , Rating: 5
What do you think the AP is? They just repost stories from their members, while all their member newspapers repost stories from them. It's how the game works.

RE: Bit late?
By Yawgm0th on 12/17/2008 1:27:10 PM , Rating: 4
I read this story last night. Almost a word-for-word copy, too. This is the fourth version I've read of this story from the fourth writer, and it says the same damn thing on every one, including this one. This, however, is basically copied, pasted, and rearranged from the BBC. Sure, a few words are changed, a couple plugs for previous DT stories are dropped, but there's nothing new here.

The real problem is this: "Some experts recommend switching, but others don't, etc." Some version of this takes up about half of every story a like, and it's useless to the technically adept and the clueless alike. I'd hope for a tech site (i.e. DailyTech) to take a less vague and "unbiased" position than this.

I had to actually dig to find out what the vulnerability is really about and come to a conclusion. You'd think at least DailyTech would have gone into details.

RE: Bit late?
By TomZ on 12/17/2008 1:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
I agree - and I throught it was odd to talk about "experts" suggesting to install other browsers in the meantime. I mean, what kind of advice is that, considering Microsoft planned a release for later the same day ?!?

Downloading and installing a different browser instead of just waiting a few hours and running Windows Update is pretty silly. Or better yet, run it now (as I did) and find out that the update is already available.

RE: Bit late?
By mars777 on 12/17/2008 10:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
It really isn't the same day. God know for how long this was misused until somebody out of MS found it. It was reported yesterday and MS plans to do a patch for tomorrow.

That's the caveat of closed source. You never know for how long something was misused. It could have been misused from day one of IE7 because nobody reported it and nobody could have reviewed IE7 code to ensure it is safe. Surely the first finder of the bug did not report it but rather chose to exploit :)

RE: Bit late?
By Quiescent on 12/17/2008 10:54:39 PM , Rating: 3
I have been telling my mother since day 1 to use another browser. She didn't listen to me until last night. I had Firefox installed on her computer, and now she's finally using it. I would have her use Google Chrome, but she needs addons for Firefox. I don't need them too much.

RE: Bit late?
By Quiescent on 12/18/2008 1:08:54 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, but get this: I got my stubborn dad to use Firefox since the day I requested that he did. I put it on his business computer and told him that since he doesn't have AV software currently, that he is safer using Firefox than IE. However, for some reason I am more apt to convince my dad about using software now that my boyfriend has built his business computer and he seems to like computers now that he doesn't have to deal with a crappy eMachine. He doesn't listen to my step mother anymore, just my boyfriend and I.

But I suppose I finally got someone who is stubborn with computers to use a different browser, so this issue with IE has made it possible for me to show my mother the benifits of firefox, but I do hope she doesn't go crazy on the addons and themes, lol.

RE: Bit late?
By randy915 on 12/17/08, Rating: -1
RE: Bit late?
By mfed3 on 12/17/2008 7:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
Checked Windows Update, 0-day patch for IE v5,6,7 and 8 beta already patched before the article came out here.

RE: Bit late?
By Aloonatic on 12/19/2008 5:46:50 AM , Rating: 2
I posted a link to the story a couple of hours after it came through on my RSS feed from the BBC Technology site.

Admittedly, it was stuck at the bottom of an article about MS knowing about the DVD scratching problem with the xBox 360 but I thought it was pretty important :)

being 5 or 6 hours ahead gives the UK a slight advantage when it comes to this sort of thing, but other articles were posted on DT after this news broke.

Maybe DT take the time to check up on things themselves before posting a story? Even if the content is a copy & paste affair perhaps they want to make sure that what they are copy and pasting is remotely true?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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