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'Bluetooth sniper' Windows vuln fix in light Patch Tuesday

Unpatched machines can be crashed wirelessly

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Microsoft's latest patch Tuesday landed last night with four bulletins, the most significant of which fixes a Bluetooth-related vulnerability in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

The patch (MS11-053) fixes a vulnerability in the Bluetooth stack within Windows that creates a possible, albeit difficult to exploit, code injection risk. An attacker would normally need to be both near and in possession of a Bluetooth address - not revealed via the vulnerability itself - to cause any mischief. It's more likely that the bug might be abused to crash Windows boxes that have Bluetooth enabled, a far easier trick to pull off.

Marcus J Carey, security researcher and community manager at vulnerability management outfit Rapid7, said this type of wireless vulnerability could become more common in future.

"We can expect more Bluetooth related bugs popping up due to projects like Project Ubertooth, which is enabling security researchers to experiment with Bluetooth hardware and communication," Carey explained. "While critical, this vulnerability could be difficult to exploit as generally speaking attackers would need to be in the immediate vicinity of the Bluetooth device to compromise it; however, there are devices known as 'Bluetooth Sniper Rifles' that enable attacks from greater distances."

Two of the other three bulletins in July's patch batch also cover flaws in Windows. The bugs in Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers (win32k.sys) and Windows Client/Server Runtime Subsystem (CSRSS) addressed by the two updates are both rated at "important". The final notice covers a security bug in Visio 2003 SP3, also classified as "important".

An overview of the updates can be found in a blog post by the Internet Storm Centre here. Microsoft's advisory is here.

July's Patch Tuesday of four bulletins is a just a quarter the size of the massive batch Redmond's security gnomes hatched in June, continuing an alternating pattern of light and heavy update loads that been a feature of Patch Tuesday over recent months. ®

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