A specially crafted HTML document can cause Internet Explorer to skip the kill bit check. This means that any ActiveX control that has been disabled solely through use of the kill bit may still be used by Internet Explorer.
A kill bit is a registry setting that prevents Internet Explorer from running the corresponding ActiveX control even if the control is installed on the system. It is not uncommon to proactively set kill bits for known malicious ActiveX controls as part of a spyware-prevention effort. For example, the SpywareGuide website provides a freely downloadable .REG file for setting kill bits of many “dubious” ActiveX controls.
How to protect
Apply the update
Install the 905915 update (MS05-054) or a more recent Internet Explorer cumulative security update.
Disabling ActiveX controls in the Internet Zone (or any zone used by an attacker) appears to prevent exploitation of this vulnerability. Instructions for disabling ActiveX in the Internet Zone can be found in the document Securing Your Web Browser and the Malicious Web Scripts FAQ.
Note that disabling ActiveX controls in the Internet Zone will reduce the functionality of some web sites.
Use a different web browser
There are a number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies involving the IE domain/zone security model, local file system (Local Machine Zone) trust, the Dynamic HTML (DHTML) document object model (in particular, proprietary DHTML features), the HTML Help system, MIME type determination, the graphical user interface (GUI), and ActiveX. These technologies are implemented in operating system libraries that are used by IE and many other programs to provide web browser functionality. IE is integrated into Windows to such an extent that vulnerabilities in IE frequently provide an attacker significant access to the operating system.
It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different web browser, especially when viewing untrusted HTML documents (e.g., web sites, HTML email messages). Such a decision may, however, reduce the functionality of sites that require IE-specific features such as proprietary DHTML, VBScript, and ActiveX. Note that using a different web browser will not remove IE from a Windows system, and other programs may invoke IE, the WebBrowser ActiveX control (WebOC), or the HTML rendering engine (MSHTML).