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Internet Explorer is the 'sweet spot' for cyber criminals

Has surpassed Adobe and Oracle software to become the most patched software product
Fri Jul 25 2014, 13:49

Microsoft Internet ExplorerMICROSOFT'S INTERNET EXPLORER (IE) has become the most patched software product, receiving more security patches in the first six months of this year than Adobe or Oracle software, a report by Bromium Labs has found.

The report summarises public vulnerabilities and exploit trends that the firm observed in the first six months of 2014 and found that Microsoft's web browser set a record high for reported vulnerabilities in the first half of 2014 while also "leading in publicly reported exploits".

"The notable aspect for this year thus far in 2014 is that Internet Explorer was the most patched and also one of the most exploited products, surpassing Oracle Java, Adobe Flash and others in the fray," said Bromium Labs in a blog post.

"Bromium Labs believes that the browser will likely continue to be the sweet spot for attackers."

The report found that in 2013, Oracle's Java was the notorious target of malware authors and zero-day attacks, and exploit kits had a field day with it. But there were no reported zero-day exploits targeting Java in the first half of 2014. It seems that attackers have turned their attacks towards IE and have developed more novel ways to attack web browsers, leveraging an attack technique called "Action Script Spray" to bypass Address space layout randomization (ASLR).

The security company added that typically the attacks are launched by manipulating users with "classic spear-phishing tactics". It also said that as timelines to the next version of the latest Internet Explorer shrink, time to the next security patches have also shrunk, and we should expect more to come.

"Web browser release cycles are compressing and the interval between the general availability of a new release and the appearance of the first security patches has been decreasing recently," Bromium Labs explained.

"This may represent greater efforts on the part of software manufacturers to secure their products, or it may represent products being released to market with less security testing than earlier versions received." µ


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