Internet Explorer VML Vulnerability

Looks like there’s yet *another* IE vulnerability on the loose. This particular vulnerability uses a bug in VML (Vector Markup Language) to cause a buffer overflow and allow the attacker to gain access to the system. I’m a little late to the scene, but this was initially reported on September 18th. But FEAR NOT! Microsoft has happily released a security advisory in which they explain that they know about the vulnerability, and that they’ll release a patch on October 10th.

 

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Umm.. October 10th? That’s almost a month *AFTER* the report was made public.. This happens to be a really nasty bug that can cause your computer to be completely compromised and they admit to knowing about code in the wild exploiting this bug!

The person who reported this was not being irresponsible and revealing a “potential” security issue the the hacker community. Quite the opposite, in fact, they were reporting a known in-the-wild exploit with the intention of informing the masses so they could act accordingly. For Microsoft to not release a patch quicker, or even publish some viable mitigation strategy is incredibly irresponsible. At the very least they could explain how to unregister the VGX.DLL file that is the source of the expoit. Luckily, Sunbelt has instructions on how to do this.

If you’re interested in a better solution, ZERT (Zeroday Emergency Response Team) has created a patch to fix the problem. Be aware that this is not sanctioned by Microsoft and is supplied As-Is. However, if you rely on IE and want a reasonable sense of security, this may be your only choice until the behemoth from Redmond decides to release an “official” patch.

My recommendation? Switch to something else. There’s Firefox (my personal choice), Opera, and others. IE just has too many problems.

 

If you’d like to read more about this vulnerability, check out these links :

 

SunbeltBLOG – These are the guys that first reported the problem

TaoSecurity – A report about ZERT and how they’re proving that the closed source security model is broken

eWeek – A report about the vulnerability and the patch that ZERT created

 

I also want to point out that I’m not necessarily anti-Microsoft. I believe they’ve helped out the computer industry in many ways. However, I dislike many of their practices, and this is definitely one of them. It’s important for any software developer to release security patches when necessary. It is of utmost importance for a closed-source developer to release security patches as fast as possible because they’re the only ones who can truly patch the hole. Open source allows anyone, with the necessary skills, to patch the hole. I’m not saying Microsoft should open-source Windows, but maybe they should work a little harder to put together patches with more speed.

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