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Secunia Spars With Microsoft Over IE7

By David Utter

Denmark-based Secunia has brought up a trio of Internet Explorer 7 issues since Microsoft formally launched its new browser, and both sides have traded pointed comments about its vulnerabilities.

Secunia has been a quiet but well-trafficked source for the latest and greatest software problems. Widely used programs like Internet Explorer receive significant attention when they crop up in Secunia's list of problematic software.

I've seen a different side of Secunia over the past two weeks. Company CTO Thomas Kristensen has been a regular inbox visitor with some welcome insights into IE7 flaws reported to and posted on Secunia. On Halloween, the company launched its Security Watchdog blog with, what else, an entry about IE7.

"The Secunia "Security Watchdog" Blog will contain our response and opinions when vendors, researchers, articles, or a research paper calls for it," Secunia announced, and wasted no time in doing so as Kristensen took aim at Microsoft over the most recent find, an old flaw that has cropped back up in IE7.

"Two years, a new release of IE, and still no fix for the "Window Injection" issue," Kristensen wrote. "Users are at risk and Microsoft calls it a non-issue."

Low Rate eCommerce & Retail Plans

It gets better:

In 2004 the organisations behind Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Konqueror, OmniWeb, and Safari all confirmed the "Windows Injection" issue to be avulnerability and subsequently issued fixes for this issue.

IE6 users had to change the "Navigate sub-frames across different domains" setting to protect themselves.

Today, in IE7 this setting has been enabled by default - that is a good thing - but it doesn't work - that is a bad thing!

Microsoft's Christopher Budd responded on their Security Response Center blog that the spoofing vulnerability "actually isn't a security vulnerability" and posted more about it:

This is actually an important design consideration for many websites, especially line-of-business sites, that re-use windows to provide a consistent customer experience. However, an example of how this could be used to mislead users would be for an untrusted site to pop-up a browser window over a trusted site.

To make this compelling, the pop-up window would be created without an address-bar. The combination of these events could then be used to add untrusted content to legitimate-looking pop-up windows in a phishing or spoofing attack.

In response to this issue, Microsoft designed IE7 to always show a pop-up window's address bar. Beyond that, Microsoft leaves it to the user to make the same observations they recommended in 2004: verify the address and an SSL connection when deciding to possibly trust a site.

"Would you really read the full URL and spot the difference and think "ahh someone is "phishing" me now?" Kristensen asked. "Well you may if you are really paranoid - most people aren't and they would easily be fooled." He named six other browsers also affected with the issue in 2004. Five of the six fixed it within six months; the sixth browser took eleven months.

Microsoft is still on the clock.

About the Author:
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews, WebProNews, and InternetFinancialNews.

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