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Critical Flaw Affects All Supported Versions of Windows

Microsoft late Wednesday alerted customers to a critical flaw affecting all versions of Windows since Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 98.

The problem in the Windows Script Engine could allow attackers to run code of their choice on the systems of users who visited a malicious Web page or opened a malformed HTML e-mail.

A patch was available with the security bulletin at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS03-008.asp. Affected platforms include Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Windows 95 is no longer supported so the platform was not tested for vulnerability to the issue.

Microsoft considered the vulnerability so severe that it provided temporary workarounds for customers to use while they evaluated and tested the patch for deployment.

Workarounds were turning off Active Scripting support in Internet Explorer, installing the Outlook E-mail Security Update and restricting Web sites to Trusted Sites. "It should be noted that these workarounds should be considered temporary measures as they simply help block paths of attack rather than correcting the underlying vulnerability," the Microsoft bulletin asserted.

About the Author

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

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