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Critical Flaw Revealed in Microsoft VM

Microsoft Corp. this week acknowledged a critical flaw in the Microsoft Virtual Machine that could allow an attacker to intercept confidential information such as usernames and passwords.

Microsoft sent the bulletin to the 250,000 subscribers to its security bulletin service on Monday evening as MS02-013. It can be found on the Microsoft site here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-013.asp. The online version of Microsoft's bulletin contains a patch.

The Microsoft VM or Virtual Machine runs on Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It ships as part of Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Internet Explorer 5.5 and earlier versions of IE.

A flaw in the way the Microsoft VM handles Java requests for proxy resources means that a malicious Java applet could re-direct Web traffic once it has left the proxy server to a destination of an attacker's choice.

Microsoft says an attacker can use the flaw to send a user's Internet session to a system under his control without the user realizing it. An attacker can forward the user's information to the intended destination, making it look like the session is working properly.

The method could allow an attacker to create the appearance of a denial-of-service or intercept session information, possibly including usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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