After the High Comes the Low: New Internet Explorer Vulnerability Warning
Article by George Norman
On 08 Feb 2010
Just a few days ago Microsoft was proudly announcing to the world that its Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) browser is “the most popular browser of choice worldwide.” Well, after the high, comes the low. It would seem that the “most popular browser of choice worldwide” is plagued by a new security vulnerability.

Microsoft has published a new security advisory in which it explains that an attacker could access files with an already known filename and location if the computer user is running IE with Protected Mode turned off. The following browser versions are affected:
  • Internet Explorer 5.01 Service Pack 4 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service 4;
  • Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
  • Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8 on supported editions of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2

People running XP who have disabled Internet Explorer Protected Mode are the most vulnerable targets. Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can relax because, as Microsoft explained, Protected Mode is enabled by default and does not allow a person with malicious intent to exploit this vulnerability.


“The vulnerability exists due to content being forced to render incorrectly from local files in such a way that information can be exposed to malicious websites. At this time, we are unaware of any attacks attempting to use this vulnerability. We will continue to monitor the threat environment and update this advisory if this situation changes,” says the Redmond-based software giant.

According to Senior Technology Consultant with Sophos, Graham Cluley, the recently disclosed vulnerability seems “trivial to exploit.” Even though Microsoft said it is not aware of any attacks attempting to use this vulnerability, this could very well change. “Of course it would be bad news if malicious hackers took advantage of this flaw, as there is no patch yet available from Microsoft. It remains to be seen how quickly Microsoft can roll-out a proper fix for the problem, but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later,” says Cluley.

Tags: Microsoft, Internet Explorer, IE, Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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After the High Comes the Low: New Internet Explorer Vulnerability Warning
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