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McAfee Blames IE Hole for Google-China Hack

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments
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McAfee said that the Google hackers used an unknown exploit in Internet Explorer.

Thursday McAfee said that Operation Aurora, the attack that hit Google and multiple companies early in the week, was the result of a new, "not publicly known" vulnerability found in Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer. McAfee said that it has informed Microsoft with its findings, and that Microsoft is expected to publish an advisory on the matter soon.

"As with most targeted attacks, the intruders gained access to an organization by sending a tailored attack to one or a few targeted individuals," said McAfee's George Kurtz in this official blog. "We suspect these individuals were targeted because they likely had access to valuable intellectual property. These attacks will look like they come from a trusted source, leading the target to fall for the trap and clicking a link or file. That’s when the exploitation takes place, using the vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer."

Kurtz said that the malware opens a back door once it's downloaded and installed, allowing the attacker to "perform reconnaissance" and gain complete control of the compromised system. Once that takes place, the attacker can identify "high value targets" and siphon off valuable data from the targeted company.

Kurtz also said that although McAfee identified the Internet Explorer vulnerability as one of the attack vectors, he said that there could be additional vectors not yet discovered. According to their findings, Adobe Reader is not one of these vectors despite other reports blaming Adobe as a culprit. More information on the Internet Explorer vulnerability and Operation Aurora can be found on the McAfee blog.

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  • 14 Hide
    alextheblue , January 14, 2010 9:55 PM
    "Kurtz also said that although McAfee identified the Internet Explorer vulnerability as one of the attack vectors, he said that there could be additional vectors not yet discovered."

    Translation: McAfee (maker of the most bestest security software EVAR that wouldn't have even prevented this): "We're blaming IE 100% even though we don't really know exactly what happened."

    Not much anyone could have done though in any case, if they were using a previously unknown exploit.
  • 12 Hide
    doc70 , January 14, 2010 11:23 PM
    The best computer/OS is only as smart as it's user...
Other Comments
  • -2 Hide
    WinningDreams , January 14, 2010 9:47 PM
    good thing I use Chrome!
  • 14 Hide
    alextheblue , January 14, 2010 9:55 PM
    "Kurtz also said that although McAfee identified the Internet Explorer vulnerability as one of the attack vectors, he said that there could be additional vectors not yet discovered."

    Translation: McAfee (maker of the most bestest security software EVAR that wouldn't have even prevented this): "We're blaming IE 100% even though we don't really know exactly what happened."

    Not much anyone could have done though in any case, if they were using a previously unknown exploit.
  • -6 Hide
    jhansonxi , January 14, 2010 9:58 PM
    Another example of the security of closed-source applications.
  • 8 Hide
    tenor77 , January 14, 2010 10:09 PM
    Quote:
    These attacks will look like they come from a trusted source, leading the target to fall for the trap and clicking a link or file. That’s when the exploitation takes place


    Wow so the user opened up the file, anti-virus didn't pick up the mal-ware..........and it's IE's fault?
  • 6 Hide
    twu , January 14, 2010 10:21 PM
    Cheap advertisement.
  • -5 Hide
    sceen311 , January 14, 2010 10:33 PM
    twuCheap advertisement.

    It must be because no microsoft product would ever be defective or insecure... ever... not in a million years.
  • 7 Hide
    back_by_demand , January 14, 2010 10:43 PM
    The user was coaxed into clicking a link or executing a file.
    Since when is stupidity an IE exploit?
    Cos no Linux user has ever clicked an unknown executable they shouldn't...ever...not in a million years
  • 0 Hide
    gammaraptor , January 14, 2010 10:45 PM
    firefox ftw!
  • 12 Hide
    doc70 , January 14, 2010 11:23 PM
    The best computer/OS is only as smart as it's user...
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2010 11:45 PM
    back_by_demand:
    "Since when is stupidity an IE exploit?
    Cos no Linux user has ever clicked an unknown executable they shouldn't...ever...not in a million years"

    These were high value target with access to confidential IP, ive got a feeling they are not going to be just clicking on any old link/file, on the other hand should the e-mail genuinely appear to be and signed as from HR chances are your going click that link especially if it says your not going get paid, don't fool yourself this was a concerted and sophisticated attack probably using advance reconnaissance to identify high value targets as well as procuring samples of official communication to counterfeit, which the exploited used to make appear to come from Google internally

    even linux users need to get paid too....
  • 0 Hide
    fflam , January 14, 2010 11:50 PM
    well considering we know nothing of the exploit other then it is based in IE, doesn't mean the user was using another browser clicked the link and the program used IE to preform the deeds (yes unlikely i know but possible). until we know what happened there is not reason to spout out with stupid unproductive comments.

    and for the record no i don't use IE.
  • -1 Hide
    False_Dmitry_II , January 15, 2010 12:10 AM
    Meh, I either use opera or firefox
  • -2 Hide
    ch42832n , January 15, 2010 1:10 AM
    Lucky I use firefox
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , January 15, 2010 5:13 AM
    Buck off McAfee, get a antivirus that works, then I just might, just maybe, actually take you seriously for once...
  • -1 Hide
    eddieroolz , January 15, 2010 5:43 AM
    Oh awesome, let's blame IE.

  • 0 Hide
    rantoc , January 15, 2010 8:12 AM
    Mc Affe enterprice = 139 MB memory wasted from only the antivirus task alone... then add all the autoupdate crap ect. And most workstations at companies have weak memory.... do the math!
  • 1 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , January 15, 2010 12:01 PM

    rantocMc Affe enterprice = 139 MB memory wasted from only the antivirus task alone... then add all the autoupdate crap ect. And most workstations at companies have weak memory.... do the math!


    but that's the genius behind their security, a system can't be compromised if it's bogged down too much by the software made to prevent it from being compromised!

    Thouh not to defend them, antivirus and firewalls can only do so much to protect a computer if it's full of programs that are full of securiy holes
  • 1 Hide
    jblack , January 15, 2010 1:48 PM
    WinningDreamsgood thing I use Chrome!



    I think the question should be.... Why weren't they?
  • -3 Hide
    pcavv , January 15, 2010 2:55 PM
    Wait does this means that people at google use IE?! isnt Chrome the best thing out there?! strange
  • 1 Hide
    hluna52180 , January 15, 2010 3:03 PM
    Firefox has been my default browser now for over a year now. Only time I now use IE is when I do a manual Microsoft Update every so often. Mozilla 3.6 is brutally fast compared to IE8 on my midrange laptop. These targeted attacks on IE8 is just another reason I have abandoned Microsoft's browser.
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