Exploit Code Discovered for Unpatched IE Flaw
- By Becky Nagel
- March 24, 2006
This week security researchers announced that exploit code taking advantage
of an unpatched IE flaw has been published on the Web.
The code capitalizes on an IE error when encountering radio buttons using the
"createTextRange()" method, allowing hackers to attack the visiting
Microsoft issued a security
advisory regarding the exploit Thursday.
"This vulnerability could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code
on the user's system in the security context of the logged-on user," a
company spokesperson said. "Microsoft has determined that an attacker who
exploits this vulnerability would have no way to force users to visit a malicious
Web site… Instead, an attacker would have to persuade them to visit the
The advisory states that Redmond will decide soon whether to release a patch
as part of its regular monthly schedule or provide an "out-of-cycle"
Russ Cooper, director of risk intelligence publishing for the security firm
Cybertust, said he doesn't think the exploit will warrant an out-of-cycle patch.
"What we have to look at is not the flaw and not the exploit code, but
the actual risk to the user of being exploited by it," he commented. "The
simple fact is that [these kinds of] exploits are not being abused in a way
that affects a large group of people."
While many security research firms have rated the flaw "critical,"
Cooper countered that hackers' reliance on phishing e-mails for these types
of attacks makes widespread infection extremely unlikely.
"People receive these e-mails multiple times a day, every day," he
explained. "You're either duped by every one of them, or you don't
"What security managers need to think about is whether [their] people
are likely to stumble into the hole of these malicious sites. If they are, they've
probably been infected already."
Cooper did say that a widespread outbreak could occur if hackers defaced popular
Web sites with the code, but, historically, that scenario is extremely rare.
Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.