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WordPad zero-day adds to MS security woes

Double trouble

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Microsoft bumper patch batch on Tuesday failed to address not just one but two zero-day vulnerabilities, each of which has become the scope of targeted attacks.

Tuesday brought eight bulletins from Microsoft addressing 28 vulnerabilities. As previously reported, the batch fails to address a new Internet Explorer vulnerability despite the inclusion of a cumulative fix for Microsoft's browser software.

In addition, an unpatched vulnerability in WordPad has also become fodder for malicious hackers. The issue affects the Wordpad text converter for Word 97.

Users of Windows Vista and Server 2008 can breathe easy as those packages are unaffected by the flaw. XP - running SP3 - is also clear of trouble.

Windows XP SP2, as well as users of Windows 2000 and Server 2003, are potentially at risk. Microsoft is investigating reports of targeted attack, as explained in a blog entry here. The attacks would take the form of tricking users into opening an attachment, so it's not an auto-execute risk, though not especially difficult to pull off with a decent social engineering lure.

Microsoft's security gnomes are considering whether or not a patch is in order. In the meantime, Redmond is keen to stress that the risk posed by the vulnerability is limited to a small number of recorded attacks.

"Upon completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through a service pack, our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs," it said.

"At this time, we are aware only of limited and targeted attacks that attempt to use this vulnerability. Additionally, as the issue has not been publicly disclosed broadly, we believe the risk at this time to be limited." ®

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