No MS Security Issues In December? Think Again!

December is shaping up as a troubled month for Windows security. Two significant bugs have popped up, and if Microsoft sticks to their schedule the problems will fester unaddressed for a long time.

Microsoft is claiming that there will be no security updates in December, but its beginning to look like there should be. Two significant problems have crept up in the past week and theyre serious enough that Microsoft should rethink its monthly schedule plans.

The first problem involves a new way for attackers to breach network defenses in order to exploit known will be exploited in the real world very quickly, and Microsoft should endeavor to fix it as soon as possible. This vulnerability has been patched for a while. At the same time, when Microsoft issued the patch it also listed measures users could take in lieu of the patch to protect themselves, and it appears that these measures are inadequate. An alternate vector is available, and might also allow for very fast attacks of large numbers of systems, a la the Slammer worm from earlier this year.

In addition, theres is a particular problem in Internet Explorer which allows a malicious coder to make it appear as if the user is viewing a different Web site than they actually are viewing. The bug involved the use of a feature of Uniform Resource Identifiers (browser addresses) that is more often abused than used legitimately used: the @ character.

When an @ is part of the domain in a Web address, the browser treats the string to the left of it as a user name to fill in any userid prompts, and everything on the right side as the domain name. This is perfectly legitimate syntax. Click here for the actual standard document about URIs.

Next page: Obscuring the actual address.