Hackers have publicly released new attack code that exploits a critical bug in the Windows operating system, putting pressure on Microsoft to fix the flaw before it leads to a worm outbreak. The vulnerability has been known since September 7, but until September 28 the publicly available programs that leverage it to attack PCs have not been able to do more than crash the operating system.
A new attack, developed by a Harmony Security senior researcher, lets the attacker run unauthorized software on the computer, in theory making it a much more serious problem. The researcherís code was added to the open-source Metasploit penetration testing kit on on September 28. Two weeks ago, a small software company called Immunity developed its own attack code for the bug, but that code is available only to the companyís paying subscribers.
Metasploit, by contrast, can be downloaded by anyone, meaning the attack code is now much more widely available. A Metasploit developer said on September 28 that the exploit works on Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and 2 as well as Windows 2008 SP1 server. It should also work on Windows 2008 Service Pack 2, he added in a Twitter message. But the code may not be completely reliable. The Immunity senior researcher said that he could get the Metasploit attack to
work only on the Windows Vista operating system running within a VMware virtual machine session.
When he ran it on native Windows systems, it simply caused the machines to crash. Either way, the public release of this code should put Windows users on alert. Security experts worry that this code could be adapting to create a self-copying worm attack, much like last yearís Conficker outbreak.
More: Pressure on Microsoft, as Windows Attack Now Public - Business Center - PC World