Microsoft releases critical Internet Explorer patch

Microsoft has released its April security patches, addressing critical vulnerabilities in IE and Windows.

Microsoft has released its security software patches for April, addressing a bug in the Internet Explorer (IE) browser that hackers had been exploiting for several weeks.

As expected, the company released five patches, called updates in Microsoft parlance, addressing a number of critical vulnerabilities in IE and the Windows operating system. Microsoft also released an update for Outlook Express, rated important, and a fix for Windows FrontPage Server Extensions and SharePoint Team Services 2002, rated moderate. http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms06-apr.mspx"

In Microsoft's rating system the most serious vulnerabilities are tagged as critical, meaning they could allow unauthorised software to be installed without user action. The critical designation is followed by important and moderate ratings. http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/rating.mspx

The most anticipated of this month's update is the MS06-013 patch, which fixes several IE bugs including the "create TextRange ()" vulnerability reported last month. Hackers had been exploiting this problem by installing unauthorised software on PCs by tricking users into visiting sites that took advantage of the bug.

Security researchers had reported four separate IE vulnerabilities prior to the release of the MS06-13 update, but Microsoft said it has addressed a total of 10 issues - including address spoofing and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities - with the patch.

The IE update also will include changes to the way that IE handles ActiveX controls, meaning that on some websites, users may now have to click through some extra steps when using dynamic content like Flash animation. These changes come as the result of a $US521 million judgment against Microsoft in a patent lawsuit brought by Eolas Technologies and the University of California.

On Tuesday, Microsoft also patched a similarly critical vulnerability in the way Windows Explorer handles Component Object Model objects. Attackers could take over a system by tricking users into visiting a website that would then connect them to a remote file server.

"This remote file server could then cause Windows Explorer to fail in a way that could allow code execution," Microsoft said.

This vulnerability affects all supported versions of Windows, Microsoft said. (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-015.mspx)

The third critical fix in April's updates addresses vulnerability in an ActiveX control, called RDS.Dataspace, which is distributed with the Microsoft Data Access Components. This software is included with the Windows operating system and is typically used by database software.

The RDS.Dataspace component problem is rated critical for Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It is considered a moderate risk for Windows Server 2003 users. (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-014.mspx)

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Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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