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Microsoft Investigating Mouse Tracking Flaw in Internet Explorer

On Thursday Microsoft said that it is looking into claims that a vulnerability in Internet Explorer allows hackers to track mouse activity on a screen even when the browser is not being actively used. News of the vulnerability surfaced on Wednesday, reporting that the problem resides in Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

The browser flaw was originally spotted by Spider.io months ago, and then reported to Microsoft on October 1. The security analytics firm said that the Microsoft Security Research Center acknowledged the IE vulnerability, but the Redmond company stated that there were no immediate plans to patch this vulnerability in existing versions of the browser.

The IE vulnerability reportedly compromises the security of virtual keyboards and virtual keypads. Malware doesn't need to be installed. Instead, an attacker can simply buy display advertising on a site and insert non-malicious code into the ad itself. Thus when a user visits a website with the ad on display, the hacker can track their cursor movement while the page remains open.

Even more, cursor movement is recorded even if the web surfer is on another tab or out on the desktop with the browser minimized. Thus, as long as the web page remains open in Internet Explorer, the attacker can record everything the end-user's mouse does on-screen including making Skype calls and more.

"Internet Explorer’s event model populates the global Event object with some attributes relating to mouse events, even in situations where it should not," the security analytics firm said. "Combined with the ability to trigger events manually using the fireEvent() method, this allows JavaScript in any webpage (or in any iframe within any webpage) to poll for the position of the mouse cursor anywhere on the screen and at any time—even when the tab containing the page is not active, or when the Internet Explorer window is unfocused or minimized. The fireEvent() method also exposes the status of the control, shift and alt keys."

Microsoft told The Next Web on Thursday that it's currently investigating the reported issue, but to date there are no active exploits or customers that have been adversely affected. "We will provide additional information as it becomes available and will take the appropriate action to protect our customers," Microsoft added.

Spider.io states that the vulnerability is already being exploited by at least two display ad analytics companies across billions of page impressions per month.

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  • chicofehr
    I'm sure Microsoft is using this themselves which is why they don't seem bothered to fix it. Google probably wants this flaw to remain as well.
    Reply
  • spartanmk2
    When has internet explorer ever not had a vulnerability...
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

    I wonder if MS is going to patch one of those two browsers IF they get around to the exploit, or at least IE7?...

    Anyways, I already installed IE10, but I suppose I'll have wait for a while considering the fact that how easy it is to upload malware-loaded advertisements.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    Spartanmk2When has internet explorer ever not had a vulnerability...
    When was there a software that was invulnerable except for ones completely inaccessible by humans (or not created by a human, because a jerk can set a critical embedded software to delete itself at 2012 Dec 21st before loading it to the devices).
    Reply
  • joytech22
    Tracking cursor movement is about as useful as being blindfolded and trying to hit a pinata from 1000km away.
    Reply
  • beayn
    What purpose would tracking cursor movement have? It's not like it's stealing passwords.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    joytech22Tracking cursor movement is about as useful as being blindfolded and trying to hit a pinata from 1000km away.That's kind of what I was thinking. If it doesn't send information other than cursor location and ctrl, shift, alt key status, it's not much of a vulnerability.
    Reply
  • As far as tracking the relative positions of a 10 key key pad that some banking websites use to defeat key loggers, I guess some banks can randomize the layout of the 10 key pad to defeat that vulnerability!
    Reply
  • arson94
    Well.... If I were to write messages to these "hackers" using my mouse cursor, like I moved my cursor around my desktop to write "Lick balls, bitch" would they receive my message? If not, then I guess I wouldn't call it much of a hack. They would probably think that my computer was infected with real malware that sporadically moved my mouse cursor around uncontrollably.
    Reply
  • SteelCity1981
    how about more ie version updates instead of coming out with a new version every two years. IE should be at least v15 right now.
    Reply