[ISN] Microsoft issues 12 patches, eight of them for critical’flaws

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Feb 9 07:01:44 EST 2005


By Paul Roberts
FEBRUARY 08, 2005 

On the same day that it announced a deal to acquire antivirus software
vendor Sybari Software Inc., Microsoft Corp. today released a total of
12 software patches designed to fix 16 vulnerabilities in Windows,
Office and other products.

Eight of the new patches are for "critical" security holes that could
be used to run malicious code on affected computers, Microsoft said.  
The group of fixes represents one of the largest single-day releases
of software updates since Microsoft switched to a monthly patching
approach in October 2003.

Microsoft provided patches for almost every supported version of
Windows, including the recently issued Windows XP Service Pack 2. The
company is trying to plug security holes in critical Windows
components and in products such as its Internet Explorer Web browser
and MSN Messenger instant messaging application.

The most serious problems that Microsoft is trying to address with
this month's patch release include the following:

* A vulnerability in a component of MSN Messenger that renders the
  Portable Network Graphics image files used to display icons, such as
  smiley faces. If the flaw is successfully exploited, malicious code
  could be hidden in a buddy icon and launched whenever MSN users load
  their IM contact lists, Microsoft said.

* A flaw in the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol that affects
  Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 and could be used
  to launch attacks on vulnerable systems from Web pages. SMB is used
  to communicate between Windows machines and to share network
  resources such as printers and files.

* A vulnerability in the License Logging Service (LLS) used in Windows
  Server 2003, Windows 2000 and Windows NT Server 4.0. The logging
  service is a tool that helps customers manage software licenses for
  Microsoft's server products. The company said a remote attacker
  could use the vulnerability to cause LLS to fail, creating the
  potential for denial-of-service attacks on systems running Windows
  Server 2003. Attackers could install programs; view, change or
  delete data; or create new user accounts on Windows 2000 and NT
  Server 4.0 systems, Microsoft added.

* Four holes in Versions 5 and 6 of Internet Explorer. One of the
  patches includes a fix for a "drag and drop" vulnerability that
  couldallow a remote attacker to use the Web to place an executable
  file on a Windows system without the user of the machine being shown
  a dialog box asking for approval for the download. With the
  exception of the Internet Explorer holes, Microsoft doesn't know of
  any active attacks attempting to exploit the vulnerabilities, which
  were all discovered by security researchers outside of the company,
  said Stephen Toulouse, program manager at Microsoft's Security
  Response Center.

Microsoft recommends that companies assess their exposure to the
vulnerabilities and make all applicable software patches as soon as
possible, Toulouse said.

Aware of the burden being placed on IT security managers by the large
number of patches, Microsoft also released an enterprise-level
scanning tool designed to help users detect vulnerable computers. The
new tool supplements the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer,
according to Microsoft.

The company is also increasing the number of webcasts it holds to
discuss deployment of the security updates, anticipating an increased
need for help with this month's patch release, Toulouse said.

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