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News of an Internet Explorer (IE) bug was announced a few days ago. It is a serious flaw that permits attackers to hijack computers via the browser. There is no patch for the bug to date. Users who run security VPNs and have taken the following security steps are less vulnerable to attackers.
Zero Day Attack Hijacks Computers Via IE
IE is the browser of choice for 26% of Internet users around the world. The IE bug put these users at risk of computer hijacking. The flaw is a zero day code execution vulnerability, meaning it has never been used before. With no patch for the issue, IE users remain vulnerable to this fresh slew of attacks. All the currently supported IE versions – 6 through 11 – have the bug. Most exploits were detected on versions 9 through 11, however. Microsoft is still investigating the bug, formally known as CVE-2014-1776.
Using this vulnerability, hackers can impersonate known websites and steal sensitive user data. Hackers can also easily gain administrative access through this flaw. All it takes is a user who is logged in as an administrator. The hacker who infiltrates the system through the vulnerability then gains complete control of the system.
Security VPNs and Internet Security Practices
The first defense against the IE bug would have been security VPNs and basic Internet security practices. This means cautious browsing, antivirus software and firewalls. These are the basic Internet security tools that would have kept users safe. Security VPNs draw attention away from targets with IP hiding and anonymizing traffic. Security VPNs also add data encryption that secures information that could attract attackers. Cautious browsing would have limited the possibility of falling prey to the phishing attacks that are the first step in attacks. Antivirus software and firewalls work together to spot suspicious activity that can alert users to attempted attacks.
Zero day exploits are becoming popular ways for hackers to gain entry into company databases. They use these attacks to get into corporate networks and take valuable data like intellectual property and customer information. The data of users who have been accessing their online accounts using IE is in danger. That is, if they have not used security VPNs and the above security practices and tools. Bugs like the one found in IE can target the largest amount of people. This makes it very attractive to hackers and very dangerous to users.
The best way to avoid getting hijacked is to stop using IE. When Microsoft fixes the problem, users can go back to using the browser. For users who cannot do without IE, there is a Microsoft toolkit available, the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET). This toolkit can help keep your Windows system more secure.
EMET secures Windows by preventing the exploitation of software vulnerabilities. This includes software not developed by Microsoft, but not all software is compatible with the toolkit. It uses security mitigation technologies to block exploits. They are like hurdles that make the attacks more difficult to execute. They are no guarantee that software vulnerabilities will not be exploited. But they reduce the likelihood of success. Version 4.0 of EMET includes Certificate Trust, an SSL/TLS certificate pinning feature that can be configured. It can recognize and deter man-in-the-middle attacks. To use EMET 4.0, user systems must run Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0. Systems with Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 can run EMET 3.0. For Windows 8 users running IE 10, on Windows 8, compatibility update KB2790907 must be installed.
Microsoft has not reported any breaches caused by extensions, plugins or addons like Adobe Flash. Disabling these addons will still help prevent attacks. The same goes for IE vector markup language (VML) support. These can give hackers the ability to get past the data execution prevention and address space layout randomization. Microsoft put these in place to prevent hackers from executing malicious code remotely. Some attackers have already used the use-after-free vulnerability to target computers. These in-the-wild attacks were detected in systems running IE 9 through 11. The attackers use these exploits in tandem with malicious websites. The attackers who have been identified are responsible for other zero-day exploits that have stolen sensitive data from government and corporate systems.
Microsoft Rushes To Fix Major Internet Explorer Security Flaw
New Zero-Day Exploit targeting Internet Explorer Versions 9 through 11 Identified in Targeted Attacks