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Microsoft pulls faulty Exchange 2013 patch HOURS after release

Patch Tuesday's fudged fix: Sysadmins, quick – turn Outside In inside out

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Microsoft has pulled a security update for Exchange 2013 after problems emerged with the latest patch to the email server software just hours after its release.

The critical MS13-061 security update for Exchange Server 2013 broke the message index service, preventing Exchange 2013 email users from searching their mailboxes. Specifically, after the installation of the security update, the Content Index for mailbox databases shows as Failed and the Microsoft Exchange Search Host Controller service is renamed.

Sysadmins who have already installed the faulty patch on Exchange 2013 servers need to apply a workaround, which involves editing of registry keys.

Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of cloud security firm Qualys, reckons resolving both glitches will be fairly simple, so an updated patch can be expected soon. A post on the Microsoft Exchange blog puts the problems down to shortcomings in Redmond's testing process.

Exchange 2007 and 2010 users should still apply the fix since the security patch causes no difficulties if installed on older versions of Microsoft's email server software.

"If you already installed MS13-061 on Exchange 2007 and or 2010 it looks like you should be good to go as the issue does not seem to occur with those versions," explained Ziv Mador, Director of Security Research at Trustwave.

MS13-061 addresses three vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange that can stem from bugs in the third-party library Outside In, which is licensed from Oracle. This technology allows Outlook Web Access users to view content such as PDF files inside the email client's preview pane without installing a proprietary reader.

Oracle published new versions of Outside In in April and July, and Microsoft has incorporated these new versions in the faulty update.

Sysadmins would be well advised to apply a stop-gap workarounds which includes turning off document processing involving Outside In – at least, pending the availability of a functional security patch. ®

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