Friday, July 25, 2014

Hackers exploiting Internet Explorer to expose security flaws on a huge scale

Exploits can expose software and security systems, researchers warn, helping hackers attack remote machines undetected

Samuel Gibbs, theguardian.com, Friday 25 July 2014 02.00 EDT

Hackers and cybercriminals are using flaws in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to search computers to discover what kinds of security software they are running and how to take control of them, security researchers claim.

The exploits are allowing digital reconnaissance to be performed on a massive scale, across whole companies, computers, web servers and users without their knowledge, exposing holes in their security and allowing criminals to intelligently attack vulnerable machines.

“By knowing what security software is installed, the hackers can determine if their attack is going to work,” Jaime Blasco, director of AlienVault Labs security firm that discovered the techniques, told the Guardian.

“That way they will only attack a computer they know is vulnerable and avoid alerting security companies to their presence.”

The hackers aren’t solely interested in security software. They also probe systems to discover software that might be vulnerable, including PDF readers and other user applications, which can be attacked to take control of a computer.

(More here.)

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