A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

MSA 912840 Vulnerability

Be careful out there. On Tuesday, December 27, 2005, Microsoft became aware of public reports of malicious attacks on some customers involving a previously unknown security vulnerability in the Windows Meta File (WMF) code area in the Windows platform.

Upon learning of the attacks, Microsoft mobilized under its Software Security Incident Response Process (SSIRP) to analyze the attack, assess its scope, define an engineering plan, and determine the appropriate guidance for customers, as well as to engage with anti-virus partners and law enforcement.

Microsoft confirmed the technical details of the attack on December 28, 2005 and immediately began developing a security update for the WMF vulnerability on an expedited track.

Microsoft has completed development of the security update for the vulnerability. The security update is now being localized and tested to ensure quality and application compatibility. Microsoft’s goal is to release the update on Tuesday, January 10, 2006, as part of its monthly release of security bulletins. This release is predicated on successful completion of quality testing.

The update will be released worldwide simultaneously in 23 languages for all affected versions of Windows once it passes a series of rigorous testing procedures. It will be available on Microsoft’s Download Center, as well as through Microsoft Update and Windows Update. Customers who use Windows’ Automatic Updates feature will be delivered the fix automatically.

• In a Web-based attack scenario, an attacker would have to host a Web site that contains a Web page that is used to exploit this vulnerability. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit a malicious Web site. Instead, an attacker would have to persuade them to visit the Web site, typically by getting them to click a link that takes them to the attacker's Web site.

• In an E-mail based attack involving the current exploit, customers would have to be persuaded to click on a link within a malicious e-mail or open an attachment that exploited the vulnerability. At this point, no attachment has been identified in which a user can be attacked simply by reading mail.

• An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could only gain the same user rights as the local user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

• By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003, on Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, on Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 for Itanium-based Systems, and on Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition runs in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration This mode mitigates this vulnerability where the e-mail vector is concerned although clicking on a link would still put users at risk. In Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Outlook Express uses plain text for reading and sending messages by default. When replying to an e-mail message that is sent in another format, the response is formatted in plain text.

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