Beware; your systems might be prone to the malicious attack of zero day. This attack is capable of hijacking your PC via a small vulnerability common in Windows, Office and Lync. If you think the chances of this attack are less then think again. The estimated number of attacks is more than what was considered initially. What makes matters worse is that Microsoft won’t be able to concoct a remedy for this attack anytime soon, and definitely not by next week’s Patch Tuesday blitz.
Using custom TIFF images, attackers use the vulnerability to remotely execute code on the machine. Luckily for the attacker, they get to use the user level rights similar to the victims, for executing this code. So if your system has already been infected, but your administrator account hasn’t, attacked you are safe for now. However if you have the administrator account infected, then the hijacker is in full control of your machine, and there isn’t much you can do about it.
The following Microsoft software are more vulnerable to exploitation:
- All versions of Lync
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2008
- Office 2003 and Office 2007. This makes your system vulnerable, irrespective of the operating system.
- Office 2010, but only if it was installed in Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.
Though Microsoft was aware of these attacks using the vulnerability, these were first considered to be targeted attacks. However, reports from Fire Eye and Symantec’s security researchers reveal that malware groups are rampantly using the TIFF flaw to hack into many computers.
Though this is a dire situation, there are some points that could be held in a positive manner. In the security post that Microsoft made stating that a fix will not be available in time for Patch Tuesday, Microsoft revealed that mostly Office 2007 is under attack. Other potentially vulnerable software as listed above are not targeted at all at this point. The attacks have occurred predominantly in the Middle East and Asia, using the reports of Microsoft Fire Eye and Symantec.
Soon a fix will be available to fix Microsoft errors leading to this vulnerability. Therefore, those with infected computers need to be patient until a solution can be developed to fix Microsoft errors, and remove the gaping hole in the security. This is a major breach of security, but with any luck, Microsoft can come up with a permanent solution to help the victims of this malicious attack.