BitDefender today has released an emergency update to shield users against the newly-discovered vulnerability in Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7. Microsoft has detailed the attack scenarios in security advisor #981374, announcing that a patch is being made in order to mitigate the vulnerability.
Users running Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7 can get infected by simply visiting a specially crafted web page that uses highly obfuscated JavaScript code to create a use-after-free error, such as a pointer being accessed after the deletion of an object.

Anatomy of the attack

Initially, the user is lured into visiting a specially crafted web link advertised either via spam messages or as posted on bulletin boards, social networks etc. The respective webpage contains JavaScript code obfuscated using the escape function. In order to bypass detection from various antivirus products, the script calls a secondary JavaScript that replaces a variable with the unescape string.

The decrypted result is actually the malicious payload which will trigger a heap spray attack and will write the malicious code into the browser’s User Data area, making it persistent: every time the browser starts, the malicious code is executed without any subsequent intervention (drive-by download), which will result in the automatic download of a file called either notes.exe or svohost.exe (detected by BitDefender as Gen:Trojan.Heur.PT.cqW@aeUw@pbb).
This approach is similar to the one that has been used in targeted attacks against 34 major corporations including Google™ and Adobe™.

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