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New Bluetooth Patch Fixes XP Security Hole

Microsoft reissues a "critical" patch relating to Bluetooth wireless technology that was released last week as part of its June update cycle.

Microsoft on Thursday announced that it was reissuing a "critical" patch relating to Bluetooth wireless technology that was released last week as part of its June update cycle. The patch addresses how Bluetooth interoperates with Windows components and applications.

Microsoft originally released the patch on June 10, saying that it resolved "a privately reported vulnerability in the Bluetooth stack in Windows." The vulnerability could allow a hacker carte blanche over an enterprise system, with edit, delete, change and write capabilities.

The amended critical patch is designed to plug security holes when running various versions of Windows, especially XP Service Packs 2 and 3, according to Christopher Budd, security response communications lead for Microsoft.

"Customers who in particular [are] running Windows XP SP2 or SP3 should download and deploy these new security updates," Budd stated in an e-mail to Redmondmag.com. "Customers running other versions of Windows who have already applied the original security updates do not need to take action."

Budd added that the updated versions of the affected security updates will be made available through the usual distribution channels, which include Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services.

IT security pros, including Tyler Reguly, security engineer with San Francisco-based network security firm nCircle, said that this critical patch is an important one because it doesn't require user participation and is a vector many hackers find increasingly easy to use.

"Microsoft definitely wants to get it right," Reguly said. "I find this interesting simply because we're seeing a vulnerability in a wireless protocol that is quite popular. People travelling with laptops are probably the most likely to have Bluetooth enabled. It's important to keep in mind the limited range of Bluetooth, which is what, in my opinion, somewhat limits the severity of the vulnerability."

For its part Microsoft is still investigating what may have gone wrong with a few downloads of this particular patch over the past two weeks.

Writing on Microsoft's MSRC blog, Budd explained that his division launched the investigation after it "learned that the security updates for Windows XP SP2 and SP3 might not have been fully protecting against the issues discussed in that bulletin."

So far, it appears that Redmond's engineers have indentified "two separate human issues involved," according to Budd. "When we're done with our investigation, we'll take steps to better prevent it in the future."

The Bluetooth reissue was one of a few patch reissues released in the first six months of this year. The reissue with the highest profile came in March, when an Excel cell calculation bug caused some versions of its popular spreadsheet app to apply incorrect math formulas in individual rows and columns on the program's document interface.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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