by Robert McMillan, IDG News Service
It has become a familiar pattern: A hacker posts exploit code to a
security Web site; Microsoft follows soon after with a warning to
The pattern was repeated again Thursday, only this time Microsoft's
warning that it is investigating "new public reports" of a critical
bug in Windows comes more than two months after sample code showing
how to take advantage of the flaw was posted to the Web. Microsoft's
advisory can be found here.
The flaw that Microsoft warned about is in an ActiveX control (called
WebViewFolderIcon) used by the Windows' graphical user interface
software. It was first disclosed on July 18 as part of a month-long
project by hacker HD Moore to expose problems in browser software.
Moore's blog post on the flaw can be found here.
Bugs Not Yet Investigated
Moore called his project the "Month of Browser Bugs" and ended up
disclosing a total of 22 Microsoft vulnerabilities during the period.
A few days ago, Moore quietly added exploit code for this latest flaw
to his Metasploit hacking tool. The exploit caught Microsoft's
attention after it was posted to the milw0rm.com Web site, Moore
said. But the security researcher believes that any competent hacker
could have developed an exploit based on his July blog posting.
So far, Microsoft has patched only two of Moore's flaws. In fact,
Microsoft engineers haven't even been able to investigate close to a
third of the vulnerabilities, Moore said.
Patches Coming Soon
Microsoft executives could not immediately be reached for comment, but
the company's security advisory said this latest WebViewFolderIcon bug
will be patched on Oct. 10.
"We have been in contact with HD Moore and at this time our
investigations have revealed that most issues relating to Internet
Explorer in particular will result in the browser closing
unexpectedly," Microsoft's public relations agency said Thursday in a
statement. "Because of their nature, most of these issues will more
likely be resolved through a service pack release rather than a
Microsoft has been busy this month, rushing out an emergency,
"out-of-cycle" fix for a flaw in Internet Explorer's Vector Markup
Language rendering engine that was being widely exploited by
Exploitable Bugs Unreported
Microsoft has even more work ahead of it, according to Moore. In early
August, he handed Microsoft another 70 bugs that he had not publicly
Still, he believes that more of his flaws should have been fixed by
"I was kind of amused that they would do an out-of-cycle patch for the
VML bug, but would let all of these lapse," he said.
Microsoft has told him that at least four of his bugs are "exploitable
issues," meaning that an attacker could take advantage of them to run
unauthorized software on a victim's computer, Moore said.
Microsoft Response Slow
Earlier this week, Symantec said that Microsoft was the slowest of the
major browser-makers at patching its bugs during the first half of
But according to Symantec's numbers, Microsoft patched IE bugs, on
average, nine days after the public disclosure of a flaw. Most of the
22 Month of Browser Bugs flaws have been in public for two months now.
Copyright 2006 PC World Communications, Inc.
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