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Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability


Release Date:  2007-02-26    Last Update:  2009-05-12    Views:  154,798

Secunia Advisory SA24314


From remote


Cross Site Scripting

Solution Status:


CVE Reference(s):


Stefan Esser has discovered a vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which can be exploited by malicious people to conduct cross-site scripting attacks.

The vulnerability exists because pages that don't specify a charset inherit the charset of the parent page. This can be exploited to execute arbitrary HTML and script code in a user's browser session in context of certain sites that are included e.g. via iframes in a malicious page that uses UTF-7 as charset.

Successful exploitation requires that the user is tricked into visiting a malicious web site.

The vulnerability is confirmed in Internet Explorer 7 and 8 on a fully patched Windows XP. Other versions may also be affected.

Do not browse untrusted sites.

Provided and/or discovered by:
Stefan Esser. Additional information related to Internet Explorer 8 provided by Inferno.

Original Advisory:
Stefan Esser:


Deep Links:
Links available to Secunia VIM customers

Do you have additional information related to this advisory?

Please provide information about patches, mitigating factors, new versions, exploits, faulty patches, links, and other relevant data by posting comments to this Advisory. You can also send this information to

Subject: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability

User Message
palisade RE: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability
Member 22nd Aug, 2010 19:52
Score: 37
Posts: 16
User Since: 26th Feb 2010
System Score: N/A
Location: US
Last edited on 22nd Aug, 2010 20:19
I have verified this exploit still works on the latest IE8. I also tested Chrome and Firefox, they are not vulnerable. I am going to try downloading the preview for IE9 and test that as well, I'll keep everyone here posted.

After that I am going to contact MS and see what their thoughts on this are.

Update: The IE9 preview is not vulnerable to this exploit. However, the preview is far from ready to be used as a replacement web browser for IE8 and it is not officially out yet. This vulnerability is not actually closed until MS fully releases IE9 to the public after the beta this September. Since they have solved this in IE9 there's no need for me to contact MS regarding this issue at this time.
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firebreathingmonkey RE: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability
Member 14th Sep, 2010 09:47
Score: 6
Posts: 1
User Since: 14th Sep 2010
System Score: N/A
Location: UK
IE9 might fix the problem but this version of IE only runs on Windows Vista and Windows 7 (as far as I am aware) so users of Windows XP will still need the IE7 or IE8 patch introducing.
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PetrolDave RE: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability
Member 9th Feb, 2011 11:28
Score: 0
Posts: 2
User Since: 9th Feb 2011
System Score: 100%
Location: UK
Last edited on 9th Feb, 2011 11:29
According to Wikipedia 44% of all Windows installations are still using XP, so a patch of IE8 is essential - unless M$ are happy to leave this vulnerability open to nearly half of Windows users?
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sp80 RE: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability
Member 21st Aug, 2013 12:01
Score: 0
Posts: 1
User Since: 22nd Apr 2009
System Score: N/A
Location: FR
Last edited on 21st Aug, 2013 12:01
Is this vulnerability still existing for a fully IE8 + WinXP configuration? What is Microsoft answer to this problem?
Thank you.

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E.Jeppesen RE: Internet Explorer Charset Inheritance Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability
Secunia Official 22nd Aug, 2013 09:25
Score: 220
Posts: 618
User Since: 24th Nov 2008
System Score: N/A
Location: Copenhagen, DK
I have not come across any official statement from Microsoft regarding this advisory but its status is unpatched. That means that no patch is available for this vulnerability which affects Internet Explorer 7.x and Internet Explorer 8.x. At this point I would be surprised if Microsoft decides to release a patch for this vulnerability from 2007. Do notice however that the criticality for the vulnerability is “Less Critical”. For an explanation of our terminology please see this page:


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