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Windows 2000 Patch the Lone Fix for May

As planned, Microsoft released only one security bulletin for May in its monthly Patch Tuesday event today. The bulletin patches an "important" flaw in Windows 2000 that can allow an attacker to take control of a vulnerable computer over the Internet.

Microsoft calls the flaw the "Web View Script Injection Vulnerability," and includes the patch for it in the new security bulletin MS05-024.

The vulnerability was publicly disclosed before Microsoft issued its bulletin, and proof of concept code has also been published. According to Microsoft, the company has not received any reports of its customers being attacked through the security hole.

The remote code execution vulnerability arises from the way that Web View in Windows Explorer handles certain HTML characters in preview fields. "By persuading a user to preview a malicious file, an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the logged on user," the Microsoft Security Response Center says.

Microsoft cited the amount of user interaction required for an attack to succeed in classifying the flaw as "important" rather than "critical." Unlike many vulnerabilities that are open to being exploited through a URL, this flaw cannot be exploited automatically through e-mail, according to Microsoft.

The flaw affects Windows 2000 systems with Service Pack 3 or Service Pack 4. SP2 systems were not tested because Microsoft has formally ended support for that and earlier service packs. The flaw does not appear to affect Windows 98 or Windows 98 SE. Windows Me contains the affected component, but Microsoft does not patch Windows 9.x platforms unless a vulnerability is critical.

The release of only one bulletin is consistent with Microsoft's announcement last week that only one security bulletin would be forthcoming for May. That follows a heavy month in April, when Microsoft released eight security bulletins.

The bulletin is available at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS05-024.mspx.

About the Author

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