Microsoft has issued a patch for its Internet Explorer web browser after discovering a zero-day vulnerability, which is being actively exploited by hackers in an attempt to gain control of consumers’ PCs.
The critical vulnerability enables attackers to exploit PC users simply by sending them malicious links that open in the legacy browser, which is still available for Windows 7 and Windows 10 users.
Once hackers have control, they have full administrative privileges over the computer in question. They can install software, view account information, change data and even create their own accounts.
The memory corruption flaw (labelled CVE-2018-8653) is exploitable in Internet Explorer 11, but also for users running IE9 and IE10 on some versions of Windows Server.
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The company is urging users to install the patch via Windows Update. Those with automatic updates enabled will receive the patch and will be protected automatically.
Microsoft said it received a report from Google of the active attempts to exploit the vulnerability. However, it has not revealed whether any users have been affected by the issue.
A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that the scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.
In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit the vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website, for example, by sending an email.
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