Microsoft patches patch for NT 4.0

After removing links to a security patch that caused the NT 4.0 operating system to fail, Microsoft on Friday posted an updated patch that fixes the NT 4.0 problem.

The patch, MS02-071, was originally released on Dec. 11 and addressed a vulnerability affecting the WM_TIMER function on a variety of Microsoft's operating systems including Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

By taking advantage of the security hole, an attacker could gain full administrative privileges on a vulnerable system, enabling the attacker to add, delete, or modify data at will and create or delete user accounts.

Microsoft rated the vulnerability "Important."

Following the release of the patch in December, reports surfaced in online discussion groups of random crashes and system reboots on NT 4.0 systems after installing the patch. Those problems disappeared when the patch was removed.

On Feb. 3, Microsoft removed links to the version of the patch for NT 4.0 operating systems from the security bulletin covering the WM_TIMER issue, saying that it had "determined that the patch for Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 machines introduced an error that may, under certain configurations, cause NT 4.0 to fail."

On Friday, the company updated the bulletin again, providing links to a new patch for NT 4.0 that fixes the random crash problem, according to Microsoft.

"Microsoft has investigated this issue and is releasing an updated patch for Windows NT 4.0," the company said in an update to its bulletin.

Microsoft recommended that its customers review the security bulletin on its technical support Web site and install the patch at the earliest opportunity if they are running a vulnerable operating system. The bulletin is at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-071.asp.

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Paul Roberts

IDG News Service
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