Microsoft Closes Five Holes In IE With Patch Tuesday Update

Microsoft today patched a recently published flaw in Internet Explorer — as well as four other vulnerabilities that hadn’t been disclosed yet.

In its monthly Patch Tuesday security bulletin, Microsoft said it has fixed a total of five holes in IE, one of the Web’s most popular hacking targets.

“This security update resolves four privately reported vulnerabilities and one publicly disclosed vulnerability in Internet Explorer,” Microsoft said. “The vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer.”

“There is one vulnerability patched with this bulletin that administrators should pay close attention to,” says Jason Miller, data and security team leader at Shavlik Technologies. “The vulnerability specifically deals with malicious Active X controls that were built with a vulnerable ATL. The ATL vulnerability prompted an out-of-band release earlier this year from Microsoft.” That advisory expires if users install the new patches, Miller noted.

The major IE patch should be a sign to enterprises that they need to move quickly to IE 8 or Firefox, says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys.

“[The patches] should put the task of getting users off IE 6/7 on the top of IT admins’ New Year’s resolutions for 2010,” Kandek says. “They have to be migrated to a more modern browser, with the most viable options being IE 8 with its well-known patching mechanism or Firefox 3 with its more aggressive patching schedule.”

Microsoft also patched a privately-reported vulnerability in Microsoft Office Project. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted Project file, the company said.

“An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system,” Microsoft said. “An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.” The patch is rated “critical” for Microsoft Project 2000 Service Release 1 and “important” for Microsoft Project 2002 Service Pack 1, and Microsoft Office Project 2003 Service Pack 3.

Microsoft issued four other patches in its Patch Tuesday bulletin, one “critical” and three “important.” Details on the patches can be found in the security bulletin.

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