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Users of MS Exchange 5.5 or Exchange 2K with OWA (Outlook Web Access) implemented -- including those 2K users who patched their systems last week -- need to install an updated patch as soon as possible because the one issued earlier for Exchange 2K contains outdated files, and the vulnerability in 5.5 went unnoticed at first.

The Exchange vulnerability in question executes scripts in HTML e-mail attachments handled by OWA, and could enable an attacker to access a user’s mailbox with the user's level of permission.

MS says that, "under certain circumstances," these actions could include "manipulation of messages or folders."

By the handy euphemism "manipulation of messages" Microsoft means the attacker can take over and then spam the known universe in your name, threaten the lives of heads of state in your name, confess multiple, cross-gender and inter-generational infidelities to your spouse in your name....you get the picture.

"We recommend that all customers who have downloaded the Exchange 2000 patch prior to June 12, 2001 install the updated version," MS says in its most recent Exchange security bulletin.

Additionally, the original Exchange 2K patch and associated security bulletin were issued before MS discovered that the vulnerability also affects 5.5 (and probably older, unsupported versions which they didn't bother to check).

Thus if you're running 5.5, you might have been led to believe last week that your system isn't affected and promptly lost interest in this little stuff-up -- but not to worry, there's a patch for you too; and MS has every confidence that it won't have to be re-issued next week. ®

Related Links

The new 5.5 patch
The new and improved 2K patch

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MS patches Exchange 2000 email spy bug

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