Critical Windows Flaw Patched, Explanations Ensue
Article by George Norman
On 24 Oct 2008
In an article posted the other day, we were announcing the fact that Microsoft will break the Update Tuesday cycle in order to address the MS08-067 security issue which affects several Windows-based operating systems. Now that the fix has been released and the users have patched their systems, it is time to see what all the fuss was about.

Bas Alberts from Immunity Security says that the flaw refers to the manner in which Windows Server handles RPC requests. If an attacker chooses to send malicious messages to a system running on Windows OS, the security flaws within Windows Server could allow that attacker to gain control of the machine. Do you know how much time it took Immunity Security researchers to come up with an exploit code? Just 120 minutes from the time the patch was released. They did not need any specific details; the clues within the patch were enough.

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Two things must be noted. The first one is that due to the nature of the flaw (RPC request), no user interaction is required in exploiting it. Secondly, the MS08-067 flaw which dates back to Windows NT also affects the brand spanking new Windows 7 (the Beta version of it). It does not affect it as badly as it would XP for example, but it does affect it, which for some is a worrisome matter.

This is what computer security specialist Dave Aitel has to say on the matter: “What a great bug! I'm not going to spoil the fun for people still working on it, but it's very cute, like a new puppy, or an angry toddler!” Now isn’t that a plastic description that will put things in perspective. The main question is this: How come it took Microsoft so long to find this bug? Was it that well hidden, or where they simply not looking?



Tags: Windows, Microsoft, Windows Vista, Windows Update
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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