[Homestead] MS danger

tvoivozhd 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.

/To print/: *Click here* <javascript:if (window.print != null) { window.print(); } else { alert('Unfortunately, your browser does not support this shortcut.  Please select Print from the File menu.'); }> /or/ Select *File* and then *Print* from your browser's menu

        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
URL: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009-5366314.html 

*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 
customers' computers 
<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 
vulnerability <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1009_22-5298999.html?tag=nl> 
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 
WordPerfect <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5167441.html?tag=nl> 
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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