Skip to comments.Windows PCs face ‘huge’ virus threat
Posted on 01/02/2006 3:54:03 PM PST by Swordmaker
Computer security experts were grappling with the threat of a newweakness in Microsofts Windows operating system that could put hundreds of millions of PCs at risk of infection by spyware or viruses.
The news marks the latest security setback for Microsoft, the worlds biggest software company, whose Windows operating system is a favourite target for hackers.
The potential [security threat] is huge, said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, an antivirus company. Its probably bigger than for any other vulnerability weve seen. Any version of Windows is vulnerable right now.
The flaw, which allows hackers to infect computers using programs maliciously inserted into seemingly innocuous image files, was first discovered last week. But the potential for damaging attacks increased dramatically at the weekend after a group of computer hackers published the source code they used to exploit it. Unlike most attacks, which require victims to download or execute a suspect file, the new vulnerability makes it possible for users to infect their computers with spyware or a virus simply by viewing a web page, e-mail or instant message that contains a contaminated image.
We havent seen anything that bad yet, but multiple individuals and groups are exploiting this vulnerability, Mr Hyppönen said. He said that every Windows system shipped since 1990 contained the flaw.
Microsoft said in a security bulletin on its website that it was aware that the vulnerability was being actively exploited. But by early yesterday, it had not yet released an official patch to correct the flaw. We are working closely with our antivirus partners and aiding law enforcement in its investigation, the company said. In the meantime, Microsoft said it was urging customers to be careful opening e-mail or following web links from untrusted sources.
Meanwhile, some security experts were urging system administrators to take the unusual step of installing an unofficial patch created at the weekend by Ilfak Guilfanov, a Russian computer programmer.
Concerns remain that without an official patch, many corporate information technology systems could remain vulnerable as employees trickle back to work after the holiday weekend.
Weve received many e-mails from people saying that no one in a corporate environment will find using an unofficial patch acceptable, wrote Tom Liston, a researcher at the Internet Storm Center, an antivirus research group. Both ISC and F-Secure have endorsed the unofficial fix.
Microsoft routinely identifies or receives reports of security weaknesses but most such vulnerabilities are limited to a particular version of the Windows operating system or other piece of Microsoft software. In recent weeks, the company has been touting its progress in combating security threats.
The company could not be reached on Monday for comment.
Every version of Windows released since 1990 is affected.
The internet is going to be a might plain looking place without any graphics...
In other news, water is wet, the sky is blue, and women are hard to understand sometimes.
People need to switch over to Mac.
Reminds me one more time why I love my Mac!
Wanted to ask anyone if turning off pictures from laoding in IE helps getting infected.
Steve Gibson is trustworthy.
what's the bug? does it only affect web images loaded into Internet Explorer, or is any browser vulnerable?
As noted on earlier threads, there is a temporary fix at:
Bookmark the page, so you can restore this function after Microsoft issues the patch. Gibson is reliable, and explains how to temporarily disable this function and re-enable it after the fix comes out.
helps getting infected = helps from getting infected.
Every version might be affected, but processors that support Data Execution Prevention aren't affected. AMD and Intel users with hardware DEP can turn it on and forget about it.
Apparently any application that uses the Windows dispay graphic DLLs is vulnerable.
Errr, I thought the flaw was in .wmv files, quit downloading porn and music files until the patch comes out.....problem solved.
Any browser, any image viewer amd email program is vulnerable. Windows Explorer browser is vulnerable.
The only reason MACs don't have viruses is that nobody targets them.
Software is software. If someone wanted to exploit the MACOS, they could.
Please put a caveat that there are currently no fixes for Windows 98, 98 SE and ME.
For video players that can handle other formats, give your friends these links -
Subnote: V-lan works fine on my home machines- others I know swear it "hosed my codecs"- so be advised I provide that and other links on a "use with caution" basis.
Drat. There goes WFWG 3.11...
Ilfak Guilfanov (see GREEN box below) produced a highly-effective true patch which successfully suppresses all known exploitable vulnerabilities for anyone using Windows 2000, XP, server 2003, or 64-bit XP. No patch is available for Windows 95, 98, ME or NT, and none is expected to be forthcoming. But anyone using Windows 2000, XP, server 2003, or 64-bit XP should IMMEDIATELY install Ilfak's exploit suppressor into all of their systems.
Yes, that's unfortunate.
Windows 98/SE/ME users: Microsoft's original advice to "unregister the shimgvw.dll" (shell image viewer) was never correct or useful on those platforms. The good news is that all current WMF exploits appear to be non-functional on the older Win9x vintage platforms . . . so you will likely be okay until Microsoft has updated your system with the next security patches. There is no short-term workaround for Windows 9x users.
I guess what happens will depend on whether the hackers feel like aiming at older versions of Windows and on how quickly Microsoft gets its patch out for those versions.
False. That "security by obscurity" theory has been shot down many times by people who know what they are talking about. Five years, 20,000,000 users, and counting with no OSX exploits in the wild.
so what do I do???
No, it's in the DLL that displays .wmf files, not .wmv (Windows Movie). .wmf files are Windows Metafile files, which are basically image files, mostly used for clip art, rarely on legitimate web pages.
At this point I trust nobody.
I don't really like the sauce on a big mac.... would an arbys be just as good?
Probably... now if you could get either to display a .WMF graphic clip file of the Virgin Mary, you could sell it on eBay!
Try again a little later, perhaps...
Is that close to Vientiane?
I've applied the Guilfanov patch to my local box and everything seems fine so far. I've heard of some problems in canceling large print jobs but haven't seen anything like that myself.
Thanks for that. I'm researching it now....
Sounds like a great Law Enforcement tool.
Insert the virus in some kiddie pork and get it circulating.
Then after a few months you can start picking up the perverts as the virus reports back the location of the infected machines.
"Virus attacks every Mac ever made, hundreds affected."
MSIE users may be infected automatically. Firefox, Mozilla and Opera users will be prompted for action (open with application, save to hard drive).
"In our tests (under XP SP2) older versions of Firefox (1.0.4) defaulted to open WMF files with "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer", which is vulnerable. Newer versions (1.5) defaulted to open them with Windows Media Player, which is not vulnerable...but then again, Windows Media Player is not able to show WMF files at all so this might be a bug in Firefox. Opera 8.51 defaults to open WMF files with "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" too. However, all versions of Firefox and Opera prompt the user first."
I've tested Firefox 1.5 and Mozilla 1.7.12. With both browsers, the above is the case. In my case, Paint Shop Pro is resgistered to handle WMF files. When encountering a WMF file (which I created myself) embeded in a HTML file (I tried both the IMG and EMBED tags), these browsers prompted for action.
Opera 8.5 displayed the IMG tagWMF file as an empty box with the word "Image" inside. The EMBEDED tag WMF file was displayed as an empty box with the words "Plug-in content" inside.
Yep...and then Macs will be the target.
I just love these Mac folks who think that the answer to all ills a Mac.
Get a clue.
Nah... you can't manipulate a Mac.
Also, I only go to a few sites good sites like this one.
Cute. Here Let me re-state it correctly for you:
"No Vruses attack every OSX Mac ever made, 20,000,000 not infected!"