Microsoft Warns Of Vulnerabilities In Chrome, Opera Browsers


In its first advisory, MSVR11-001, Microsoft warned of a use-after-free object lifetime flaw in Chrome, that, if exploited, could be used by remote hackers to launch malicious attacks. Vulnerabilities that enable hackers to attack a user remotely -- without any user intervention -- are considered the most serious, typically receiving the highest severity ranking of "critical" by Microsoft.

Specifically, the vulnerability exists in the way that Google Chrome attempts to reference freed memory. Potential attackers could exploit the vulnerability and cause the browser to become unresponsive or unexpectedly quit, allowing them to run malicious code within the Chrome sandbox. The Google Chrome sandbox is isolated from the local file system, designed to limit outside attacks.

In an attack scenario, a hacker could host a malicious Web site or compromise a legitimate Web site with infected content exploiting the Chrome vulnerability. A user would then unknowingly download malware by either visiting the site or clicking on the malicious content, which could enable the hackers to infiltrate their systems to steal data or completely shut down their computers.

In addition, Microsoft's second advisory, MSVR11-002, warned users of an HTML5 implementation in both Chrome and Opera browsers that opened up the door for information disclosure attacks.

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Altogether, the information disclosure flaw affects Google Chrome browser version 8.0.552.210 and earlier, as well as Opera browser version 10.62 and earlier.

Attackers who successfully exploited the vulnerability could obtain unauthorized access to private information. While the vulnerability itself does not enable potential attackers to launch arbitrary code remotely or directly elevate their user rights, they could, however, use the information they obtain to further compromise an affected system, Microsoft said.

Both Google and Opera have already addressed the vulnerability on their own respective platforms. And thus far, it does not appear that the vulnerabilities have been used in active in-the-wild attacks.

Microsoft will likely repair the vulnerabilities in subsequent, regularly scheduled monthly security updates.