By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
March 30, 2006
Cybercrooks are spamming e-mail messages to trick people into visiting
malicious Web sites that exploit a recent Internet Explorer flaw,
experts warned Thursday.
The Web sites take advantage of the vulnerability in the omnipresent
Microsoft Web browser to install a keystroke logger on vulnerable
computers, according to San Diego-based Websense Security Labs.
"This keylogger monitors activity on various financial Web sites and
uploads captured information back to the attacker," Websense said in
an alert. The malicious software could capture log-in names and
passwords for the sites, information criminals could sell or possibly
use to plunder a victim's account.
The e-mail messages used to lure people to the Web sites contain
excerpts from BBC news stories and offer a link to "read more,"
Websense said. This link leads to a forged BBC Web page where the
malicious software is dropped onto a vulnerable PC by exploiting the
"createTextRange()" vulnerability in IE, according to Websense's
The vulnerability has to do with how Internet Explorer handles the
createTextRange() tag in Web pages. Since the flaw was disclosed
publicly last week, more than 200 Web sites have been found to exploit
it. These sites typically install spyware, remote control software and
Trojan horses on vulnerable PCs.
Microsoft has said it is working on a fix for the browser. That update
is currently scheduled for delivery April 11, Microsoft's regular
monthly patch day. However, the Redmond, Wash., company has said it's
considering an earlier release.
Meanwhile, two security companies have beaten Microsoft to the punch.
eEye Digital Security and Determina both released unofficial fixes for
the IE flaw earlier this week. Experts, however, have warned users to
be cautious with non-Microsoft fixes and instead suggest using a Web
browser other than IE, or disabling Active Scripting, which is also
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