[Homestead] MS danger
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Sep 16 09:01:28 EDT 2004
Just viiaiting a website with JPEG graphics can do in your
computer---another reason for avoiding IE Explorer and using Firefox.
This story was printed from ZDNet News <http://news.zdnet.com/2001-1_22-0.html>,
located at http://news.zdnet.com <http://news.zdnet.com/2001-1_22-0.html>.
*Major graphics flaw threatens Windows PCs*
By Robert Lemos <mailto:rob.lemos at cnet.com> CNET News.com September 14,
2004, 1:24 PM PT
*Microsoft published on Tuesday a patch for a major security flaw in its
software's handling of the JPEG graphics format and urged customers to
use a new tool to locate the many applications that are vulnerable.*
The critical flaw has to do with how Microsoft's operating systems and
other software process the widely used JPEG image format and could let
attackers create an image file that would run a malicious program on a
victim's computer as soon as the file is viewed. Because the software
giant's Internet Explorer browser is vulnerable, Windows users could
fall prey to an attack just by visiting a Web site that has affected
The severity of the flaw had some security experts worried that a virus
that exploits the issue may be on the way.
"The potential is very high for an attack," said Craig Schmugar, virus
research manager for security software company McAfee. "But that said,
we haven't seen any proof-of-concept code yet." Such code illustrates
how to abuse flaws and generally appears soon after a software maker
publishes a patch for one of its products.
The flaw affects various versions of at least a dozen Microsoft software
applications and operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Server
2003, Office XP, Office 2003, Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1,
Project, Visio, Picture It and Digital Image Pro. The software giant has
a full list of affected applications in the advisory on its Web site
Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is still being distributed to many
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009_22-5316838.html?tag=nl>, is not
vulnerable to the flaw.
"The challenge is that (the flawed function) ships with a variety of
products," said Stephen Toulouse
security program manager for Microsoft's incident response center.
Because so many applications are affected, Microsoft had to create a
separate tool to help customers update their computers. Users of Windows
Update will also be directed to the software giant's Office Update tool
and then to the tool that will find and update imaging and development
applications. The tools are a preview of what may come from the company
in the future, Toulouse said.
"We know one of the most important things that we hear from customers is
to make the software update process easier," he said. "A goal of a
unified update mechanism is what we are looking at."
Out of necessity, Linux distributions have already developed such
unified update software, which not only updates the core operating
system but also other applications created by the open-source community.
The majority of Windows applications, however, are created by companies
other than Microsoft, making such a unified update system more
politically difficult to create.
The JPEG processing flaw enables a program hidden in an image file to
execute on a victim's system. The flaw is unrelated to another image
found in early August. That vulnerability, in a common code library
designed to support the Portable Network Graphics, or PNG, format,
affected applications running on Linux, Windows and Apple's Mac OS X.
Both the JPEG, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and
PNG formats are commonly used by Web sites
As part of a notification program that has been in place since April
2004, any customer that had signed a nondisclosure agreement with
Microsoft received a three-day advance warning about the JPEG flaw.
"Some customers wanted to get more information, for planning purposes,"
Toulouse said, responding to media reports that premium customers were
getting advanced notice of security issues. He directed interested
customers to their Microsoft sales representative to get more
information on the program. The information given to participants in the
program is limited to the number of flaws, the applications affected and
the maximum threat level assigned to the flaws.
The JPEG image
vulnerability is the latest flaw from Microsoft and the source of the
company's 28th advisory this year. Microsoft frequently includes
multiple issues in a single advisory; four advisories in April, for
example, contained more than 20 vulnerabilities.
A second patch released by Microsoft on Tuesday fixes a flaw in the
file converter in Microsoft Office, Publisher, Word and Works. That flaw
is rated "important," Microsoft's second-highest threat level, just
below "critical." The vulnerability would let an attacker take control
of the victim's PC, if that user opened a malicious WordPerfect document.
More information on the second flaw can be found in the advisory
on Microsoft's Web site. The software giant recommends that customers
use Office Update to download the fix.
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