Microsoft releases four critical patches

The software vendor’s monthly round of security patches targets vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer and an obscure part of its Bluetooth stack.

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Microsoft has issued seven patches addressing 10 vulnerabilities, including four rated 'critical' as part of this months patching cycle.The critical patches apply to its Windows operating system (OS), Internet Explorer (IE) and, unusually, a Bluetooth component.

The Bluetooth patch, MS09-030, targets a third-party ActiveX control that comes bundled with Logitech hardware, including its mice and keyboards. And it marks Microsoft's first ever patching of its Windows implementation of the Bluetooth stack.

An attack targeting the Bluetooth flaw could allow a hacker to rapidly send a large number of crafted Service Discovery Protocol (SDP) packets to an affected system. The vulnerable system would react to those packets and allow an attacker to run code with elevated privileges and take complete control without the user's knowledge, according to the security bulletin.

Andrew Clarke, Lumension Security international vice president, said: "The Bluetooth Bulletin is the most interesting critical patch that deserves keen attention. [It] could mean that it's possible to attack a victim's computer just by being within close proximity and not actually being on the network itself."

The IE and Windows vulnerabilities will be more familiar fare for IT security administrators, making most OS versions of IE 6 and 7 vulnerable to specially crafted web pages carrying malware, as well as a remote code execution vulnerability in its multimedia DirectX application programming interfaces (APIs), which could dupe users into downloading bogus media files.

As previewed last week, the other patches target Active Directory, the Windows internet name service (WINS) and the pragmatic general multicast (PGM) protocol, used by Windows for streaming media, which Microsoft said could lead to a variety of denial of service, remote code execution or elevation of privilege attacks.

Clarke said: "Even though the Active Directory Bulletin is only marked as important, this is something businesses will want to address primarily because active directly is such a business critical system and an attack could potentially grind networks to a halt."

And, as also previewed, one of the three less severe, 'moderate' patches is a 'kill bit' update for Windows, in order to disable code known to carry a security bug. Microsoft said it fixes a flaw in its speech API, disabling a third-party ActiveX control from backup vendor, BackWeb.

BackWeb's own security advisory said the flawed ActiveX control features in the Logitech Desktop Manager, update notification software bundled with Logitech's hardware, including keyboards, mice and Windows web cams. A patched version of the ActiveX control is available from Logitech in an update from its site.

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