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Doomwatchers sound Windows and IE vuln alarm

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Security researchers are warning of a newly discovered vulnerability in Windows operating systems that makes applications susceptible to remote attack if they rely on widely used application programming interfaces. It is one of at least three PC-based security flaws to be published in four days.

The vulnerability resides in two locations in the Microsoft Class Foundation, a sprawling set of code that software developers can call on to make applications do everything from displaying certain types of graphics to performing searches. Two libraries responsible for searches across the file system, MFC42 and MFC71, are susceptible to a buffer overflow attack if an overly long argument is passed to an affected function.

"Any application that uses the API, allowing the user to manipulate its first argument, is vulnerable to this heap overflow," officials from the Goodfellas Security Research team wrote in a blog post.

Secunia rates the vulnerability as "moderately critical," its third highest rating on a five-rung severity scale. Microsoft officials are looking into the report and are unaware of any exploits, a spokesman said.

A second flaw in Apple's QuickTime media player allows attackers to pass malicious code to Internet Explorer. Proof-of-concept code shows how a simple QuickTime file embedded on the Blogger website can shut down the Skype application without any action taken by the user.

Last week, a researcher showed how the same QuickTime bug, which was disclosed more than a year ago, can cause Firefox to install backdoors and other malware on a fully patched system. Mozilla on Tuesday introduced an updated version of Firefox that is designed to protect users until Apple comes out with its own patch, according to this post.

Petko Petkov, the same researcher who published details about last week's QuickTime flaw, on Tuesday disclosed a new vulnerability in Windows Media Player that allows attackers to lure visitors to malicious sites using Internet Explorer. It could be aimed at people who have avoided the Microsoft browser for security concerns, Petkov said here.

While the vulnerability only affects the earlier Version 9 of the media player, Petkov said that is the "default" player for Windows XP SP2, meaning users who rely on the Windows automatic update feature are never prompted to install the upgrade. A Microsoft spokesman said company researchers are investigating the latter two vulnerability reports as well. ®

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