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Critical Flaw Found in Content Management Server

Microsoft on Wednesday revealed a critical flaw in its Microsoft Content Management Server. The most serious of three newly discovered vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to remotely execute code on a server in the Local System context.

Content Management Server, a member of Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Server family that also includes SQL Server and Exchange, is server middleware for building and managing enterprise Web sites, including those with e-business components.

The most dangerous flaw consists of a buffer overrun in a low-level function that performs user authentication, according to Microsoft. One Web page -- and possibly more -- included with Content Management Server 2001 passes inputs directly to the function. That gives an attacker an opportunity to overrun the buffer.

Exploiting the vulnerability could allow code to be run in the context of the MCMS service, which runs as Local System.

But Microsoft says that if organizations deploy the URLScan tool on the server, the maximum damage the flaw can allow is a denial-of-service attack.

The other two problems reported this week are both rated "moderate" on Microsoft's threat scale.

A pair of flaws could be exploited in combination to upload attack code to a server, and a SQL injection vulnerability could be exploited to run operating system commands on the server. Neither of the two "moderate" vulnerabilities could give the attacker administrative privileges on the server.

The main competitive differentiator for Microsoft Content Management Server is price and the economic stability of its parent company. Microsoft introduced Content Management Server last year after buying the technology from nCompass Labs, which had developed a content management system called Resolution built on Microsoft's COM architecture.

A Microsoft security bulletin containing a patch for the three vulnerabilities can be found here: www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-041.asp.

About the Author

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

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