Attack code used to hack Google now public

IE 6 users on Windows XP are most at risk

The dangerous Internet Explorer attack code used in last month's attack on Google's corporate networks is now public.

The code was submitted for analysis Thursday on the Wepawet malware analysis Web site, making it publicly available. By Friday, it had been included in at least one publicly available hacking tool and could be seen in online attacks, according to Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee.

The attack is very reliable on Internet Explorer 6 running on Windows XP, and it could possibly be modified to work on more recent versions of the browser, Marcus said. "The game really changes now that it's hosted publicly," he said.

A hacker could use the code to run unauthorized software on a victim's computer by tricking them into viewing a maliciously crafted Web page.

That's apparently what happened at Google late last year, when hackers were able to get into the company's internal systems. According to people familiar with the incident, 33 other companies were also targeted by the attack, including Adobe Systems.

On Thursday, Symantec and Juniper Networks said they were investigating the incident, and Yahoo, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical have also been named as victims in published reports.

Microsoft issued a security advisory on the IE flaw Thursday and has not ruled out the possibility of rushing out an emergency "out-of-cycle" patch to fix it. Microsoft's next set of security patches is due Feb. 9, giving hackers more than three weeks to exploit the flaw.

Security researchers say it would be very hard to exploit the flaw reliably on Windows Vista or Windows 7 systems, however, because of their advanced memory protection technology.

Marcus said that, judging from the amount of concern McAfee is hearing from corporate customers, an out-of-cycle patch is a strong possibility. "My gut tells me that they're going to go with an out-of-cycle," he said. "It's too good of a vulnerability for most of the bad guys to overlook."

The problem is serious enough that on Friday, Germany's federal IT security agency, the Federal Office for Information Security, advised users (in German) to use an alternative browser until Microsoft fixes the issue.

McAfee has more details on the attack here.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlesecurity

More about Adobe SystemsAdobe SystemsDow Chemical AustraliaGoogleJuniperJuniperMcAfee AustraliaMcAfee SecurityMicrosoftNorthrop GrummanSymantecYahoo

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