Re: MS Response to Chaos Computer Club Quicken Hack

Rohit Khare (
Thu, 20 Feb 1997 10:43:36 -0500 (EST)

Dear Site Builder Network Member,

Tomorrow, Microsoft will be posting the attached letter
to our web site, and sending it out to the Internet
Explorer community. In it, Brad Silverberg addresses
head-on the recent security questions facing the
industry regarding malicious, unsigned controls. We
know this issue is important to you and your customers,
and wanted to give you a heads-up.

For more information, check out

Best regards,

Tod Nielsen
General Manager, Developer Relations Group


>From the Office of Brad Silverberg
Senior Vice President
Microsoft Corporation
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Dear Internet Users Everywhere:

You may have heard reports about a malicious
software program created and demonstrated recently
by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in Hamburg,
Germany. I want to personally assure you that
Microsoft(R) Internet Explorer 3.0 has the
appropriate safeguards to protect against this type
of threat. By using its default security level
(High) that comes pre-set, Internet Explorer 3.0
will not download and run any "unsigned" control
such as the one from the CCC.

The CCC demonstrated its malicious executable code
running on Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0, though
they could just as easily have demonstrated a
similar attack on any other browser. While it is
unfortunate that hackers have created this harmful
program, it does point out the need for users to
act cautiously and responsibly on the Internet,
just as they do in the physical world.

Malicious code can be written and disguised in many
ways - within application macros, Java(tm) applets,
ActiveX(tm) controls, Navigator plug-ins, Macintosh(R)
applications and more. For that reason, with
Internet Explorer 3.0, Microsoft has initiated
efforts to protect users against these threats.
Microsoft Authenticode(tm) in Internet Explorer 3.0 is
the only commercial technology in use today that
identifies who published executable code you might
download from the Internet, and verifies that it
hasn't been altered since publication.

If users choose to change the default security
level from High to Medium, they still have the
opportunity to protect themselves from unsigned
code. At a Medium setting, prior to downloading
and running executable software on your computer,
Microsoft Internet Explorer presents you with a
dialog either displaying the publisher's
certificate, or informing you that an "unsigned
control" can be run on your machine. At that
point, in either case, you are in control and can
decide how to proceed.

As you know, Microsoft is committed to giving users
a rich computing experience while providing
appropriate safeguards. Most useful and productive
applications need a wide range of system services,
and would be seriously limited in functionality
without access to these services. This means that
many Java applications will have to go "outside the
sandbox" to provide users with rich functionality.
By signing code, a developer can take advantage of
these rich services while giving users the
authentication and integrity safeguards they need.
Other firms such as Sun and Netscape are following
our lead, and have announced that they will also
provide code signing for Java applets. Microsoft
will also be providing an enhanced Java security
model in the future, giving users and developers
flexible levels of functionality and security.

Microsoft takes the threat of malicious code very
seriously. It is a problem that affects everyone
in our industry. This issue is not tied to any
specific vendor or group of people. All of us that
use computers for work, education, or just plain
fun need to be aware of potential risks and use the
precautions that can insure we all get the most out
of our computers. For this reason, we are committed
to providing great safeguards against these types
of threats in Internet Explorer. We expect hackers
and virus writers to get increasingly sophisticated
but we pledge we'll continue to keep you and us
one step ahead of them.

Best regards,

Brad Silverberg

P.s. Be sure to check out our Web Executable
Security Advisor at

---End of forwarded mail from Site Builder Network <sbn@MICROSOFT.COM>

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