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Microsoft Patches Eight Security Holes

Summer break? What summer break? Microsoft's security teams demonstrated that they're not sleeping during the dog days of summer this year when they issued patches for eight newly discovered security problems last week.

Six of the problems were fixed in one super patch for Internet Explorer. Security bulletin MS02-047 is a cumulative patch for Internet Explorer with fixes for the half dozen new vulnerabilities, of which three merit "critical" designations in Microsoft's threat rating system. Tested were Internet Explorer versions 5.01, 5.5 and 6.0.

One of the critical problems arises from a buffer overrun vulnerability affecting the Gopher protocol handler. Microsoft has been working on patching that problem for awhile. The company's security team provided a workaround for the problem back in mid-June in bulletin MS02-027.

Another newly patched critical problem in Internet Explorer is a buffer overrun in an ActiveX control that displays specially formatted text. The vulnerability there could allow an attacker to run code of his or her choice in the context of the user.

A Cross Domain verification vulnerability offers the other critical problem newly fixed in the cumulative IE patch. That one could allow "a malicious Web site operator to access data across different domains, for example, one in a Web site's domain and the other on the user's local file system and then pass information from the latter to the former," Microsoft's bulletin notes.

Details of those issues and the three less serious newly patched vulnerabilities are available at:
www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-047.asp.

A separate bulletin issued late last week addresses a problem in the Microsoft Terminal Services Advanced Client ActiveX control, which can be installed on any Windows system. That moderately dangerous vulnerability allows an attacker to run code of his or her choice. The control, called TSAC, must be downloaded from Web servers that offer terminal services.

That bulletin and the patch are available here:
www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-046.asp.

The other bulletin issued last week affects most of the Microsoft business operating systems that are currently supported. Affected are Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, Server and Terminal Server Edition; Windows 2000 Professional, Server and Advanced Server; and Windows XP Professional.

The vulnerability, also of moderate severity, involves an unchecked buffer in the network share provider, and it can lead to a denial of service. Users can obtain the bulletin and patch at:
www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-045.asp.

With the latest flurry of three bulletins, Microsoft is on a pace to issue 70 security bulletins this year. The software giant released 60 security bulletins in 2001 and 100 in 2000.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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