Hackers used previously unknown Internet Explorer flaw in new attacks

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:40am EST

A sign is pictured in the hallway of the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, the new headquarters of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, in Redmond, Washington November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

A sign is pictured in the hallway of the Microsoft Cybercrime Center, the new headquarters of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, in Redmond, Washington November 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Redmond

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A previously unknown flaw in a recent version of Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer web browser is being used to attack Internet users, including some visitors to a major site for U.S. military veterans, researchers said Thursday.

Security firm FireEye Inc discovered the attacks against IE 10 this week, saying that hundreds or thousands of machines have been infected. It said the culprits broke into the website of U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars and inserted a link that redirected visitors to a malicious web page that contained the infectious code in Adobe Systems Inc's Flash software.

FireEye researcher Darien Kindlund said that the attackers were probably seeking information from the machines of former and current military personnel and that the campaign shared some infrastructure and techniques previously attributed to groups in mainland China.

He said planting backdoors on the machines of VFW members and site visitors to collect military intelligence was a possible goal.

A VFW spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company was aware of the "targeted" attacks and was investigating. "We will take action to help protect customers," said spokesman Scott Whiteaker.

The latest version of the browser is IE 11, which is unaffected, and a Microsoft security tool called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit also protects users who have installed that.

Previously unknown flaws in popular software are a key weapon for hackers and are sold by the researchers who discover them for $50,000 or more, brokers say.

They are most often bought by defense contractors and intelligence agencies in multiple countries, but some of the best-funded criminal groups buy them as well.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (6)
mrkjessup wrote:
unknown flaw ? IE10 ? SORRY BUT IE11 HAS A FLAW TOO..DONT BELIEVE MICROSOFT I FOUND THE FLAW VERY EASILY

Feb 13, 2014 11:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
Somehow I doubt the Chinese have anything to do with this one.

Feb 14, 2014 8:17am EST  --  Report as abuse
Saristas wrote:
The first thing I do after installing fresh windows is get rid of internet explorer before it infects the computer and makes other programs dependent on it making it impossible to erase it.

Feb 14, 2014 9:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

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