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Windows Server 2003 Gets First Patch

Windows Server 2003, the operating system Microsoft delayed for a complete security code review, got its first formal patch from Microsoft last week. But the underlying vulnerability isn't as serious for the new server operating system as it is for the raft of other Microsoft operating systems that are affected.

Microsoft put out bulletin MS03-023 on Wednesday evening and rated the patch a critical fix for organizations using Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Me. A buffer overrun in Windows' HTML converter could allow code execution.

Windows Server 2003 is protected against automatic exploitation of the new attack out of the box by the new lockdown of Internet Explorer under the Enhanced Security Configuration. Only users who have disabled Enhanced Security Configuration for their server would be vulnerable to automatic exploitation of the attack. For that reason, the vulnerability is rated a "moderate" instead of a "critical" threat for Windows Server 2003.

Microsoft has repeatedly said it spent $200 million on its Trustworthy Computing-related security review of Windows Server 2003, which involved developers getting security training, reviewing the code for flaws and delaying the release of the server OS for about a year. Microsoft released Windows Server 2003 on April 24 of this year. By comparison, when Windows 2000 Server was about three months old in early 2000, it had been the recipient of seven bulletins containing security patches.

To find more information on the flaw and a patch, click here.

The HTML converter flaw prompted one of three security bulletins out of Redmond on Wednesday. The other two flaws were rated "important" by Microsoft. A buffer overrun that could lead to data corruption and, in some cases, code execution affects Windows NT 4.0 Server; Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition; Windows 2000; and Windows XP Professional. That bulletin, MS03-024, is available here.

The other flaw affects Windows 2000 and involves a potential privilege elevation through misuse of the accessibility features for disabled users of the operating system. Bulletin MS03-025 is located here.

About the Author

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

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