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Risk

9/10/2008
12:25 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Microsoft: Four Patches, Eight Vulnerabilities, One Biggie

Earlier this week we predicted that Microsoft would release a massive update, and the software giant certainly did. While it's not big in megabytes, it touches nearly every Windows user on the Internet. Make sure you're aware of the risks, and get yourself patched.

Earlier this week we predicted that Microsoft would release a massive update, and the software giant certainly did. While it's not big in megabytes, it touches nearly every Windows user on the Internet. Make sure you're aware of the risks, and get yourself patched.Each of today's bulletins involve vulnerabilities Microsoft has rated as "critical," which means attackers can remotely attack unpatched systems over the Internet. InformationWeek's Tom Claburn summed up today's bulletins succinctly here:

MS08-052: addresses five privately reported vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows GDI+, a Windows graphics API. These flaws could allow the execution of malicious code if a user views a specially crafted image file.

MS08-053: resolves a privately reported bug in Windows Media Encoder 9 that could allow an attacker to take control of an affected system if a user views a specially crafted Web page.

MS08-054: fixes a privately reported vulnerability in Windows Media Player that could allow remote code execution when a malicious audio file is streamed from a Windows Media Server.

MS08-055: repairs a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Office. The flaw could allow remote code execution if a user clicks on a maliciously crafted OneNote URL.

I wasn't quite sure what to make of MS08-052, so I gave Andrew Storms, director of security operations at security vendor nCircle Network Security, a call to help sort it out. While all of the vulnerabilities are important to get patched, MS08-052 certainly has the most far-reaching impact.

According to Storms, and others I exchanged thoughts with, the update in MS08-052 affect nearly every Windows user as it fixes a fistful of flaws in the Graphics Device Interface, of GDI+, that is part of Windows XP, Vista, as well as Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

The update in that bulletin, highlighted by Storms and other experts as the one most crucial to apply immediately, fixes a total of five vulnerabilities in the GDI+ component of Windows. GDI+ (Graphics Device Interface) debuted in Windows XP and is a core part of Windows Vista and the current server-side operating systems, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

Because MS08-052 affects so many Microsoft and third-party applications, it could prove ugly for admins updating their servers. We'll certainly hear at the first sign of trouble.

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