Microsoft ends year by patching 11 bugs

Critical fixes for Media Player and Internet Explorer

Microsoft released seven security bulletins this week that patch 11 vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and other parts of the operating system. Two of the bugs are currently being exploited by attackers, Microsoft confirmed.

Of the seven updates, three are rated critical -- the highest ranking Microsoft uses -- while the other four are labeled important, the second-highest category in the company's four-step scoring system.

The three critical bulletins, which fix seven different flaws in DirectX, the Windows Media Format runtime used in Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, should be patched pronto, a pair of security experts said Tuesday. "These are the worst kind of client-side vulnerabilities that one could wish for," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Inc. "All three of them deal with rich multimedia content.

"Obviously, attackers have moved away from sending malware and toward drive-by attacks," Storms added.

Amol Sarwate, the manager of Qualys Inc.'s vulnerability lab, echoed Storms in both his choice of patches to administer first and his reasoning. "The three bulletins marked critical [include vulnerabilities that] are of the type we've seen attackers use to target common desktop users, rather than trying to attack servers."

Sarwate got a bit more specific, however, in pinpointing the single-most dangerous bug patched Tuesday: MS07-069, the bulletin that addresses four vulnerabilities in IE6 and IE7, should be deployed first, he advised, because one of those flaws is already being exploited in the wild. "The DHTML zero-day is extremely important to patch," said Sarwate.

The three critical updates -- MS07-064, MS07-068 and MS07-069 -- plug holes in DirectX, Windows Media Format runtime and IE6 and IE7, respectively. Six of the seven vulnerabilities covered by those updates were pegged as critical for Windows Vista, which Microsoft has touted as it most secure ever.

MS07-064 quashes a pair of bugs in the DirectX handles several streaming video file formats; hackers could exploit the vulnerabilities by duping users into viewing rigged streaming media, said Microsoft.

"This is significant, because many applications -- and Windows itself -- use DirectX to deliver rich content," said Storms, noting that ".wav files, .avi files, and SAMI [Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange] files are all very popular and are used by tons and tons of Web sites." Users are accustomed to opening such formats, he added, making it even likelier that an attack file would pass muster.

MS07-068, Storms said, is "an almost exact duplicate," since it also involves a file format parsing bug, he said. Windows Media Format runtime, part of Windows Media Player and a component used by other parts of Windows to display content, doesn't properly deal with Advanced Systems Format (.asf) files, Microsoft's proprietary streaming media file format.

The IE6/IE7 update, MS07-069, fixes four flaws, all critical for Windows 2000, XP and Vista but pegged as moderate for Windows Server 2003. Three of the quartet are memory corruption bugs in the browsers, while the fourth is in IE's rendering of pages that include Dynamic HTML code. According to Microsoft, exploits leveraging the DHTML bug have been spotted, making the vulnerability a "zero-day."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?