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MS hatches July patch batch

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Microsoft released seven new patches yesterday. There's some help for IE users worried about last month's Download.Ject security scare, but you are going to have to wait for a comprehensive fix.

Two of the fixes - involving flaws with Windows Task Task Scheduler (MS04-022) and the HTML help function used by Internet Explorer (MS04-023) - are deemed to be critical. Either of these flaws could be used to take control of vulnerable systems, Microsoft warns.

Redmond also released a patch MS04-021 for a less serious flaw involving older versions of its Internet Information Services Web server software (IIS 4.0). This along with fixes for flaws involving the user interface, or shell, or Microsoft Windows (MS04-024); Microsoft Windows Utility Manager (MS04-019) and POSIX Subsystem of Microsoft Windows (MS04-020) are described by Microsoft at important. Finally there’s an update designed to fix a moderate vulnerability with Outlook Express (MS04-018).

Separately Microsoft released a tool to clean up machines infected during last month's Download.Ject security flap. Users visiting a website contaminated with Download.Ject activated a script that downloaded a Trojan horse (called Berbew) from a website in Russia. This website was rapidly taken down, but the underlying vulnerability in Internet Explorer used in the Download.Ject attack remains unpatched, despite a workaround from Microsoft designed to limit the scope for mischief.

Redmond released these configuration changes earlier this month and yesterday followed up tool to remove variants of the Berbew Trojan from infected systems. Berbew (AKA Webber or Padodor) is capable of extracting passwords and login details from victims and forwarding this confidential data to crackers.

The risk posed by future Download.Ject-style attacks prompted security clearing house tUS-CERT o advise users to ditch IE, a call repeated by security experts today.

Thomas Kristensen, CTO at security firm Secunia, told El Reg: "There are a variety of vulnerabilities with Internet Explorer that have been around for a while and are been actively exploited. Several are unpatched. We recommend our customers to use another browser for general web surfing and to limit their use of IE to trusted websites where its functionality is required, such as banking websites." ®

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