Ziff Davis Internet
News & Resources for the IT Reseller
NewsReviewsTech AnalysisCommentarySecurityLinux/Unix
My Account |  

Beware of Third-Party IE Patches?
By Ryan Naraine

The absence of an official patch from Microsoft for a known and widely exploited Internet Explorer flaw has spawned a cottage industry for homegrown fixes.

Security experts say a browser add-on masquerading as a third-party IE patch is being sold on the Internet, but users are being warned to steer clear of software from untrusted sources.


Word of the homegrown fixes come as malicious hackers have begun hijacking ad servers to use as a delivery mechanism for the Bofra/IFrame exploit.

Microsoft Corp. has not yet patched the IFrame buffer overflow vulnerability and, from all indications, a fix won’t be available until Dec. 14, when Redmond is next scheduled to roll out security updates.

The software giant said it had received reports of the homegrown IE patch making the rounds but warned that users should avoid installing or running software from an unknown source.

A Microsoft spokeswoman told eWEEK.com that while the add-on may have been developed with good intentions, the company cannot ensure the quality, reliability or safety of the fix.

“[We can’t] assure support for customers who experience problems when installing this add-on. As a security best practice, Microsoft would like to remind customers that they should only install or run software from a source that they trust,” the spokeswoman said.

eWEEK Special Report: Securing Windows

Gartner security analyst John Pescatore echoed Microsoft’s warning. “Those third-party fixes are more likely to be malicious than helpful,” he said in an interview. “Even someone with good intentions can’t possibly create and test an IE fix properly. It may patch the immediate vulnerability but cause another set of problems with compatibility.”

Marcus Sachs, director of the SANS ISC (Internet Storm Center), said third-party patches had been used in the past by hackers to load spyware on unsuspecting victims.

“If you are going to update your browser, it should be a patch from Microsoft and not someplace else,” Sachs said. “If you use a homemade patch, you could be putting yourself at the mercy of an attacker.”

“I’m not saying the authors of that browser add-on are malicious hackers. But when people use third-party patches, they create opportunities for attackers to take advantage of consumer fear,” he added.

PointerColumnist Jim Rapoza said Microsoft is making it easy to upgrade—to another browser. Click here to read more.

Microsoft said it was actively investigating the new Bofra/IFrame exploits, which are being described as a “criminal attack.”

eWEEK.com Special Report: Windows XP Service Pack 2

“Microsoft’s early analysis indicates that the IFrame vulnerability only exists for Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1,” the company said in a statement.

“It does not exist in Windows XP SP2 or Windows Server 2003; therefore customers who are running Windows XP SP2 or Windows Server 2003 should not be at risk from this attack.”

“[We are] taking this vulnerability very seriously; accordingly an update to correct the vulnerability is currently in development. We will release the security update when the development and testing process is complete, and the update is found to effectively correct the vulnerability.”

PointerCheck out eWEEK.com’s Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer’s Weblog.



Free Hands-On Training Lab
Find out how key features of SBS 2003 can help you open up a new line of revenue. Register now >>

SBS 2003 Sales Reference Card
This handy reference card contains features at a glance, sales objection handling, pricing guidelines & more. Get it now >>

Microsoft Empower for ISVs rewards your big idea with big benefits and support.
Access key development tools at a low cost to help you develop that idea into an innovative application. Learn more >>

Changing Business for the Better: A Practical Guide to BPM

This paper provides an overview of the benefits of BPM technologies and identifies the characteristics of BPM solutions that lead to successful BPM process-centric integration projects.

Download this free white paper to learn more!

>> brought to you by IBM

Attention Microsoft Solution Providers!

Want to gain a competitive edge? Try Microsoft Watch – FREE!

Each week you receive:
  • Microsoft News and Insider Information
  • Expert Analysis
  • Code Names of Upcoming MS Products
  • Year-Ahead Calendar, updated monthly

    Click Here to sign up now for your FREE 14 Day Trial to Microsoft Watch.
  • Add up to $1,200 of value with the new BONUS PACKS.
  • HP PartnerONE: The key to increasing your margins.
  • HP Compaq nc6129 Business Notebook. $1149 Smart Buy
  • HP xw8200 workstation. Smart Buy price $1549.
  • ProLiant DL360G4p server: HP Smart Buy price $1647
  • Microsoft files new anti-piracy lawsuits. Learn more.
  • New offers with Windows Genuine Advantage.

    •Catalog Publishing
    •Dealer Management
    •Order Configuration
    •Price Management
    •Sales Management

    View All >

    Search the jobs you want & get the info you need – post your resume here today!

    Powered by Dice
    White Boxes
    MS vs. IBM
    Linux in the Channel
    Stay in the Zone
    Put The Channel Insider on your desktop.
    Subscribe to The Channel Insider: Channel News, Reviews, Resources and more.

    Make your selections below:

    Contract Watch

    The Channel Insider Update

    Preferred e-mail format:

    Enter your e-mail:

    view all newsletters >>
    Channel Insider Quick Links
    Ziff Davis Footer Logo