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Microsoft delivers critical fixes for Windows, IE and Excel

Everything but the kitchen sink

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Microsoft's monthly patch fest for August included fixes for 14 security holes, including critical flaws in Internet Explorer, Excel and in Windows components such as XML Core Services, Vector Markup Language and Object Linking and Embedding automation.

Six of the nine bulletins issued as part of this month's Patch Tuesday were labeled "critical," Microsoft's highest severity rating. They covered a total of eight flaws. The remaining six flaws were included in bulletins rated "important."

All three IE flaws permitted the remote execution of code simply by visiting a maliciously crafted website. A separate, critical hole in the XML component also made it possible to hijack a machine by luring IE users to the bad sites.

If the hole described in VML, an XML language for rendering vector graphics, sounds eerily familiar, there's a reason. Last fall, criminal hacker gangs exploited separate flaw in the same part of Windows to infect an untold number of machines with malware, forcing Microsoft to release an emergency patch.

Software containing the security bugs included Windows Vista, IE 7 and Office 2007, all three of which were built from the ground up using new security guidelines designed to fortify the programs against attacks. In some cases, those programs proved more resilient than their predecessors against the flaws patched today. (For example, Vista was immune against the both the OLE and GDI bugs.)

Their inclusion on today's list means we're almost sure to see them again soon. ®

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