Internet Explorer has suffered several backlashes in the past for its inferior security which made many users shift to other browsers. But the latest exploit could affect you even if you don’t use the browser. Security Researcher John Page has revealed that the latest Internet Explorer security flaw can allow hackers to steal files from your computer and also spy on you.
Windows users don’t even have to run the browser to get affected by this exploit, having the browser in your system makes you vulnerable enough. The security flaw comes from the way Internet Explorer processes MHT files. .MHT is Internet Explorer’s web archive format.
John Page has explained .MHT files’ role in the security flaw. “Internet Explorer is vulnerable to XML External Entity attack if a user opens a specially crafted .MHT file locally. This can allow remote attackers to potentially exfiltrate Local files and conduct remote reconnaissance on locally installed program version information. Example, a request for “c:\Python27\NEWS.txt” can return version information for that program.”
“Upon opening the malicious “.MHT” file locally it should launch Internet Explorer. Afterwards, user interactions like duplicate tab “Ctrl+K”and other interactions like right click “Print Preview” or “Print” commands on the web-page may also trigger the XXE vulnerability,” he added.
To put it simply, if you click on an email or chat attachment that has the MHT format, Internet Explorer will open by default and leave you vulnerable to an attack. John Page has tested the exploit in V11, the latest Internet Explorer browser with all the recent security patches on Windows 7, 10 and Windows Server 2012.
Even though only a meager (7.34 percent) users use Internet Explorer today, it’s still present in many systems. Removing it completely is the only way to protect your Windows system from the latest Internet Explorer security flaw.