New Web attack exploits unpatched IE flaw

As Microsoft readies its latest set of security updates, online attackers have begun exploiting a new flaw in the company's Internet Explorer browser.

The flaw was made public in Chinese language discussion forums two days ago by a security group called the Knownsec team. In tests, it worked on IE 7 running on Windows XP, Service Pack 2.

It has already been used by attackers who have hosted it on hacked Web sites to attack unsuspecting visitors, said Wayne Huang, CEO of security vendor Amromrize Technologies. Now that the bug has been publicly disclosed, he expects attacks based on the flaw to become much more widespread.

The code exploits a bug in the way IE handles XML and works on the browser about "one in three times," Huang said in an instant message interview. For the attack to work, a victim must first visit a Web site that serves the malicious JavaScript code that takes advantage of the flaw.

A Chinese language statement on the flaw can be found online.

In attacks, the code drops a malicious program on the victim's PC, which then downloads malicious software from various locations.

Microsoft could not be reached immediately for comment, but the company is expected to release six critical patches Tuesday, including a fix for IE.

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