Feeds

Think unpatched Win XP hole's not a big deal? Hope you trust your local users

Vulnerability used to breathe life into Adobe Reader exploit, Microsoft warns

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

An unpatched vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 creates a means for hackers to gain admin rights on vulnerable Windows XP machines, Microsoft warned on Wednesday.

The zero-day local privilege escalation vulnerability is not suitable for remote code execution but might allow a standard user account to execute code in the kernel. As such, the bug is not that much use on its own, but potentially troublesome when mixed in a cocktail with other software vulnerabilities in order to formulate workable attacks.

Unfortunately this has already happened and the vulnerability has already been used in anger in conjunction with an Adobe Reader exploit to target a recently patched vulnerability in the widely used PDF reader software, anti-malware firm FireEye warns. Simply put, the Windows bug allows hackers to bypass Adobe's sandbox defences but only on older versions of Reader.

The combined exploit targets Adobe Reader 9.5.4, 10.1.6, 11.0.02 and prior on Windows XP SP3. XP users who are running the latest versions of Adobe Reader are immune from the attack, so upgrading to the latest version of Abode Reader is probably the best way of blocking potential attacks. Windows Server 2003 is also vulnerable to same privilege escalation vulnerability but are not anywhere near as at risk of attack (unless a BOFH opens a email containing rigged PDFs from a vulnerable server, or other unlikely scenarios), hence the focus on the millions upon millions of vulnerable Win XP systems.

Microsoft plays down the seriousness of the vulnerability while admitting it has been abused in "limited, targeted attacks".

The Adobe flaw was patched in August, according to cloud security firm Qualys.

"Users that have the latest version of Adobe Reader are immune to the attack, as well as users that are running on Windows Vista or later," Wolfgang Kandek, CTO a Qualys, explains in a blog post. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.