Metasploit releases IE attack, but it's unreliable

The code is not as reliable as first thought

Developers of the open-source Metasploit penetration testing toolkit have released code that can compromise Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, but the software is not as reliable as first thought.

The code exploits an Internet Explorer bug that was disclosed last Friday in a proof-of-concept attack posted to the Bugtraq mailing list.

That first code was unreliable, but security experts worried that someone would soon develop a better version that would be adopted by cyber-criminals.

The original attack used a "heap-spray" technique to exploit the vulnerability in IE. But for a while Wednesday, it looked as though the Metasploit team had released a more reliable exploit.

They used a different technique to exploit the flaw, one pioneered by researchers Alexander Sotirov and Marc Dowd, but Metasploit eventually pulled its code.

"The bug itself is unreliable," Metasploit developer HD Moore said in a Twitter message Wednesday.

The Metasploit code tried to exploit the flaw in two ways, one of which was "problematic," and the other of which was the heap-spray technique that had already been ineffective.

Microsoft said via e-mail Wednesday afternoon that it was "currently unaware of any attacks in the wild using the exploit code or of any customer impact."

That's good news for IE users, as a reliable attack would affect a lot of people. The two versions of the browser that are vulnerable to the flaw -- IE 6 and IE 7 -- are used by about 40 percent of Web surfers.

The company has issued a Security Advisory that offers workarounds to guard against the flaw.

According to Microsoft, the newer IE 8 browser is not affected by it.

The flaw lies in the way IE retrieves certain Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) objects, used to create a standardized layout on Web pages.

Concerned IE users can upgrade their browser or disable JavaScript to avoid an attack.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags exploits and vulnerabilitiesweb browserssecurityInternet Explorermetasploit

More about Microsoft

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Robert McMillan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts