Malware researcher H.D. Moore, co-founder of the Metasploit Framework, has published software exploit code meant to prove that a vulnerability in Microsofts Internet Explorer browser that he first publicized in July remains unpatched and capable of being attacked.
According to Moore, and other security researchers including Copenhagen, Denmark-based Secunia, the IE-borne vulnerability has been confirmed as legitimate on Windows computers running Internet Explorer 6.0 and Microsofts Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Secunia reported that the vulnerability is related to an integer overflow error in the browsers "WebViewFolderIcon" ActiveX control.
The glitch can be exploited to corrupt a computers memory using a malicious Web site, and could allow execution of arbitrary code if taken advantage of, the security company said.
A Microsoft spokesman said that the company is investigating the vulnerability reported in supported versions of Windows, and reported that customers running Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 in their default configurations with the Enhanced Security Configuration turned on are not affected by it.
While also aware of the proof-of-concept exploit code published by Moore, the company said it is not aware of any attacks attempting to use the reported vulnerability. Microsoft did not report any plans to issue a security update to address the problem ahead of its scheduled Oct. 10 update.
Moore, who has built a strong reputation in security circles for his work regarding penetration testing and exploit creation, has recently turned his attention to Web browsers, collaborating on several fuzz-testing tools aimed at finding design flaws.
Fuzz testers, or fuzzers, are used by security researchers to find vulnerabilities by sending random input to an application.
In July, Moore launched a project dubbed MoBB (Month of Browser Bugs) through which he provided daily releases of proof-of-concept code for flaws in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Konqueror. Many of the issues highlighted during the month, including the unaddressed WebViewFolderIcon vulnerability, could be detected by software makers if they employed more fuzzing technologies for testing their products, the researcher contends.
Despite the apparent lack of effort to close the IE flaw publicized by Moore, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has been making significant headway in improving its ability to rapidly provide software patches that secure vulnerabilities discovered in its products.
According to Symantecs latest Internet Security Report, released in mid-September, Microsoft had the shortest average patch development time of any major software vendor over the first six months of 2006, at a rate of 13 days per vulnerability.
The companys ability to get security patches out in less than two weeks time on average represented a significant improvement over its previous average of taking 30 days, or roughly one month, to solve flaws after they had been identified, reported by Symantec at the end of 2005.
Linux specialists Red Hat Software tied Microsoft at 13 days per vulnerability, according to the security applications maker, down from 28 days over the last six months of 2005.
By comparison, Apple ships security patches for known flaws on an average of 37 days after the problem is reported, and Hewlett Packard averages 53 days, Symantec researchers said.
eWeek Senior Writer Ryan Narraine contributed to this story.