A recently-discovered security flaw in Internet Explorer has the potential to affect a wide number of Internet users, according to a security firm. Confirmed by Microsoft, the "zero-day" exploit found by FireEye targets Internet Explorer 9 through to version 11, though the vulnerability itself has been found to exist in all versions of the browser going back to Internet Explorer 6.
Revealed yesterday, the exploit takes advantage of a use-after-free vulnerability, using Flash to access memory and bypass Windows' ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention) protection systems. In essence, an attacker able to coax a victim to visit a specially created site with a prepared Flash file could potentially execute code on the target computer, installing malware and gaining control of the PC.
The active exploit is being targeted in the last three versions of Internet Explorer, making up around 26 percent of the browser market in 2013. Microsoft advises that users installing the latest version of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, and to change Internet and Local intranet security zone settings to "High," among other items, with FireEye adding that the Enhanced Protected Mode in Internet Explorer 10 and later breaks the exploit, and disabling the Flash plug-in will prevent it from running in the first place.