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Users of Internet Explorer 8 at risk of 'water hole attack,' urged to take security measures

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Users of Internet Explorer 8 are at risk of what is known as a "watering hole" attack. Users of Internet Explorer 8 are at risk of what is known as a "watering hole" attack.

(RNN) - Users of Internet Explorer 8 could be at risk for a major cyber security threat unless they take steps to safeguard their browser.

Microsoft, which owns the Internet Explorer browser system, issued a security advisory that explained users of Internet Explorer 8 are at risk of a "remote code execution vulnerability."

"The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer," Microsoft said on their website. "An attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website."

According to The Hacker News, the attack is known as a "watering hole" attack and the website for the U.S. Department of Labor is just one of several high-profile web sites that have been corrupted.

The computer security news site also explained that in watering hole attacks, "victims are not affected directly. Rather, attackers compromise a trusted, third-party website that the intended targets are likely to visit, then launch a silent attack when they visit the site."

Microsoft explained further how this type of attack operates:

"In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a website that contains a webpage that is used to exploit this vulnerability. In addition, compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements could contain specially crafted content that could exploit this vulnerability. In all cases, however, an attacker would have no way to force users to visit these websites. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker's website."

Only users of Internet Explorer 8 are at risk, according to Microsoft. Users of Internet Explorer 6, 7, 9, and 10 are safe.

Users of Internet Explorer 8 are urged to visit Microsoft's page that explains how to enable a security measure that is designed to prevent the attack.

The Hacker News said the attack may have begun in mid-March and there is evidence that it is the work of a China-based hacking group known as "DeepPanda."

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