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Letter A reader writes: Maybe I'm just behind the times - it's quite possible, since I rarely boot into Microsoft Windows, but I just downloaded the latest (9!) Critical Updates for Win2K, of which one caught my eye:

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-050
Certificate Validation Flaw Could Enable Identity Spoofing (Q329115)

Technical description:

The original version of this bulletin was released on 05 September 2002.

Microsoft re-issued this security bulletin on November 11, 2003 to advise on the availability of an updated Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) security patch. This revised security patch corrects a regression that may occur during the installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1 on Windows 2000 SP4. This regression removes the update that is discussed in this bulletin and that is provided as part of Windows 2000 SP4. Customers who are using Windows 2000 SP4 and then installed Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1 should apply the updated Windows 2000 SP4 security patch to help protect from this vulnerability.

On 09 September 2002, we updated the bulletin to advise customers that a Microsoft-issued digital certificate, used to sign device drivers, did not meet the stricter validation standards established by the patch. As a result, customers who installed the patch could see unexpected error messages when installing new hardware, or in some cases might be unable to install new hardware altogether. On 20 November 2002, we released an updated version of the patch that not only eliminates this problem, but also eliminates a newly discovered variant of the original vulnerability.

I'm fscked if I can follow all this - am I patched or not? If I admin 100 workstations, are they patched or not? Have previous patches f*cked my current "clean" install? I have no idea.

Fortunately for me, I run a single W2k laptop, and only ever use W2k on it for dialup (Solaris x86 doesn't support the WinModem, haven't get got JDS (SuSE SLEC-based) to work with it either) so I only need MS when connected to the internet - surely a harmless thing?

I'm sysadmin for a 14-person firm, one fool uses Windows, everyone elses uses Solaris_x86 and/or Linux. Most of us have these crappy Dell laptops with a WinModem, though, so onsite this week I had to use my Windows partition just to dial up. I'm so thankful I don't have to support Windows users any more - we all have to use Windows on those occasions we need onsite dialup, but that is (hopefully) rare.

I realise that most of your readers are Windows admins - my heart bleeds for them. I have so much grief keeping a single laptop working - and we all have to do this individually, costing God only knows how much time - and what level of reliability?

Cheers,

One disgruntled (but enforced) Win2k user

Steve Parker

So dear readers. Is Steve Patched or is he Not? ®

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