Microsoft to Deliver Six Security Bulletins, Some Critical

The software giant said that it would ship five Windows security updates, with at least one critical patch in the mix, along with another bulletin aimed at fixing a zero day vulnerability.

Microsoft confirmed on Nov. 9 that it will ship at least six security bulletins as part of its monthly effort to patch vulnerabilities discovered in its products.

The Redmond, Wash. software maker said that it will deliver fixes for five Windows security issues in Novembers Patch Tuesday release, at least one of which will be tabbed as critical, the companys most severe vulnerability rating.

While Microsoft did not preview the release of any security bulletins aimed at patching holes in its Office software, the company said it plans to ship an update to its XML Core Services package which will also bear the critical label.

The XML Core Services bulletin will likely replace an existing workaround issued by the company on Nov. 6 to fix a zero-day vulnerability in the software that is already being exploited by hackers in live attacks.

The bug in Microsoft XML Core Services, formerly known as the Microsoft XML Parser, is caused by an unspecified error in the XMLHTTP 4.0 ActiveX Control and has been rated "extremely critical" by security alerts aggregator Secunia, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Software affected by the bulletin is expected to include Windows 2000 (including Service Pack 4), Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

Microsoft said customers who are running Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 in default configurations, with the Enhanced Security Configuration turned on, are not affected.

All supported versions of Internet Explorer are vulnerable, including the newly released IE 7. A separate, cumulative IE security bulletin is also likely to be among the expected updates.

Microsoft is also expected to issue a patch for an "extremely critical" vulnerability in its Visual Studio 2005 software that may be putting users at risk of remote code execution attacks.

The software maker issued a security advisory with pre-patch workarounds for the issue on Nov. 1 and warned that the flaw is already being used in zero-day attacks.

According to the company, the vulnerability is due to an unspecified error in the WMI Object Broker ActiveX Control (WmiScriptUtils.dll), which is used by the WMI Wizard in Visual Studio to instantiate other controls. Microsoft indicated that an attacker could use the flaw to take complete control of the affected system.

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The company also detailed plans to forward a new version of its Malicious Software Removal Tool, along with two non-security related, yet "high-priority" product bulletins via its MU (Microsoft Update) and WSUS (Windows Server Update Services).

The November release follows a record-breaking volume of security bulletins delivered by Microsoft in Oct. 2006. The company issued patches for 26 individual flaws in October, including six critical flaws in PowerPoint, Excel and Word.

Microsoft also experienced a brief hiccup in delivering the October Patch Tuesday fixes, as an internal networking issue briefly delayed distribution of the content over the companys automated product updating systems.

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