Three Critical Vulnerabilities Only Affect IE 9

Three Critical Vulnerabilities Only Affect IE 9

Severity: High


  • These vulnerabilities affect: Internet Explorer (IE) 9 only
  • How an attacker exploits them: By enticing one of your users to visit a malicious web page
  • Impact: An attacker can execute code on your user’s computer, often gaining complete control of it
  • What to do: Install Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 updates immediately, or let Windows Automatic Update do it for you


As part of today’s Patch Day, Microsoft released a security bulletin describing three new security vulnerabilities that affect Internet Explorer (IE) 9.0, running on Windows Vista, 7, and Server 2008. These vulnerabilities do not affect any other versions of IE. Microsoft rates the aggregate severity of these new flaws as Critical.

The three security flaws are all “use after free” vulnerabilities, which are types of memory corruption flaws that attackers can leverage to execute arbitrary code. They all have to do with how IE handles various specially crafted HTML objects.  If an attacker can lure one of your users to a web page containing maliciously crafted HTML, he could exploit any one of these vulnerabilities to execute code on that user’s computer, inheriting that user’s privileges. Typically, Windows users have local administrative privileges, in which case the attacker can exploit these flaws to gain complete control of the victim’s computer.

If you’d like to know more about the technical differences between these flaws, see the “Vulnerability Information” section of Microsoft’s bulletin. Details aside, all of these remote code execution flaws pose significant risk to IE users, and allow attackers to launch drive-by download attacks. Attackers often hijack legitimate web sites and force them to serve this kind of malicious web code. So these types of flaws may affect you even when visiting legitimate, trusted web sites.  If you use IE, you should download and install Microsoft’s cumulative update immediately.

Solution Path:

You should download, test, and deploy the appropriate IE updates immediately, or let Windows Automatic Update do it for you. You can find links to the various IE updates in the “Affected and Non-Affected Software” section of Microsoft’s IE security bulletin.

For All WatchGuard Users:

WatchGuard’s Gateway Antivirus and Intrusion Prevention services can often prevent these sorts of attacks, or the malware these attacks try to distribute.

More specifically, our IPS signature team has developed three new signatures, which can detect and block these new IE vulnerabilities:

  • WEB-CLIENT Microsoft IE CTreeNode Use After Free Vulnerability (CVE-2012-4775)
  • EXPLOIT Microsoft IE CFormElement Use After Free Vulnerability (CVE-2012-1538)
  • EXPLOIT Microsoft IE CTreePos Use After Free Vulnerability (CVE-2012-1539)

Your appliance should get this new IPS update shortly.

Nonetheless, we still recommend you install Microsoft’s IE update to completely protect yourself from these vulnerabilities.


Microsoft has released patches to fix these vulnerabilities.


This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP.

Published with permission from WatchguardWire. Source.

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