Bugs, Exploits Dog XP SP2

 
 
By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-08-19 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Microsoft offers a hotfix for loopback bug, while security researchers report a new vulnerability in SP2 that could allow a malicious Web site to deposit an attack program on a user's system.

Microsoft Corp. has issued a hotfix for Windows XP Service Pack 2 to solve a problem about which many users have complained: programs that attempt to connect to loopback addresses other than 127.0.0.1 get error messages. The problem—one of several that have appeared in the newly released SP 2—has been reported by many VPN users since Microsoft introduced the second release candidate in June. However, since it is a hotfix, it is not fully supported. It is expected that Microsoft will issue a more permanent fix in the future.
Meanwhile, security researchers are reporting a new vulnerability in SP2 that could allow a malicious Web site to deposit an attack program on a users system.
The attack utilizes Internet Explorers drag-and-drop features and the Windows "shell folders" to copy an executable from a malicious Web site to a users startup folder, from which it would execute the next time the user logged on. The researcher who reported the problem to security mailing lists provided proof-of-concept code that leaves a file named "malware.exe" in the users startup folder.

Click here to read more about Internet Explorers security woes. The report was echoed by Secunia, a security consulting firm. Secunia asserts that the attack also works on a fully patched Windows XP Service Pack 1 system, and that the drag-and-drop approach could be replaced with a single click.

The vulnerability is related but not identical to a series of others patched by Microsoft in pre-SP2 versions of Windows. Those vulnerabilities allowed attackers to run code directly in the context of the shell folders and therefore the browsers My Computer zone. This new attack simply writes a file in the shell folder.

For the attack to succeed, the user would have to visit a Web page that hosted it and follow the instructions. Any attack code deposited would be scanned by anti-virus software on the users computer.

Microsoft officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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