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Services For Unix has denial of service bug

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Security for virtualized datacentres

Microsoft makes security mistakes even when the software giant tries to emulate the approach to delivering services that Unix vendors take.

That's the admittedly cynical conclusion we can infer from news that a denial of service vulnerability has cropped up in Microsoft's Service for Unix (SFU) 2.0.

The software giant has issued a patch to fix the flaw in Services for Unix, which is essentially a resource kit designed to make Unix admins comfortable with using NT, by making Unix-like commands and interfaces available from Windows servers.

In a security notice, Microsoft explained that among the components provided by SFU 2.0 are services that implement the NFS (Network File System) and Telnet protocols.

"Both services contain memory leaks that could be triggered by a user request," Microsoft admitted. "An attacker who repeatedly sent such a request could deplete the kernel memory on the server to the point where performance slowed and the system could potentially fail."

The Telnet services provided within Windows 2000 and NT are not affected by the issue. Boxes running the affected software are only subject to denial of service attacks, and the vulnerability does not hackers to take control of machines or steal data.

Security experts at MIS Corporate Defence Solutions said Services For Unix was sometimes used by hosting companies, where it provided a means for Unix-skilled admins to manage NT servers. However Software For Unix is "not especially common" which tends to mitigate against any great harm been caused by the bug. ®

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