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SANS Releases Quarterly Update to List of Critical Security Updates

The SANS Institute this week provided its first quarterly update to its closely watched annual list of the most dangerous Internet threats.

New vulnerabilities on the SANS Institute Top 20 Most Critical Internet Vulnerabilities List include seven flaws affecting Microsoft products and problems with products from Computer Associates, Oracle, antivirus companies and media player companies.

Each October, the SANS Institute updated its list. According to the organization, the first three months of 2005 brought more than 600 new Internet security vulnerabilities.

"Threats are evolving at a much faster rate, necessitating regular updates to the list to ensure organizations have the most current information possible on critical security vulnerabilities," said Qualys CTO Gerhard Eschelbeck, a member of the industry and government team that collaborated with SANS to compile the quarterly update.

To make the list, a vulnerability has to affect large numbers of users, be unpatched on many systems, allow unauthorized users to take over a system remotely and have enough information in the public domain for attackers to exploit them.

New problems with Microsoft products meeting those criteria involve the Windows License Logging Service, Microsoft Server Message Block, Internet Explorer, two ActiveX controls, cursor and icon handling and PNG file processing. All the flaws have Microsoft patches available, although the SANS Institute is concerned that the patches aren't generally applied.

Another problem that affects many platforms, including Windows NT and Windows 2000 prior to Service Pack 3, is the DNS cache poisoning vulnerability, which allows for redirection of domains to attacker-controlled domains.

Outside the Microsoft platform, SANS called attention to buffer overflows in Computer Associates License Manager and server compromise opportunities in many Oracle products that were patched in the company's Jan. 18 Critical Patch Update.

Categories of products found to be exposed to major buffer overrun flaws in the first quarter were antivirus products from Symantec, F-Secure, Trend Micro and McAfee and media players including RealPlayer, Apple iTunes, Helix Player and WinAmp.

The SANS Institute list, which includes links to details of the flaws and patches, is available here.

About the Author

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

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