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Appearance of Exploit Code Means Time Is Running Out to Apply Critical Windows Patch

Security firms warned that hackers have published exploit code to the Web that takes advantage of the latest critical security flaw in Windows. The publication of exploit code for a vulnerability is a common precursor to the outbreak of a worm based on the flaw.

The exploit code takes advantage of flaws related to the DCOM RPC technology in Windows NT-based versions of Windows such as Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. A flaw in the technology was discovered in July and, after the publication of exploit code, hackers put out several worms including Blaster that used the security hole to attack systems.

Last week, Microsoft put out a critical security bulletin alerting users that the flaw in the DCOM RPC technology was wider than Microsoft originally believed. A new patch included with the security bulletin, MS03-039, is supposed to fix the holes that the July patch, MS03-026, didn't fully close. The new patch also plugs the holes that MS03-026 successfully patched.

Some security experts have noted that all that is required at this point for a new Blaster-style worm to begin spreading is for someone to drop the new exploit code into the old Blaster code and let it loose.

"We assess that the time until a new speculation of this new critical flaw will be spreading is not far," Mihai Neagu, a virus researcher at BitDefender Labs, a Romanian security firm, said in a statement Wednesday. The BitDefender researchers note that the exploit code was published on the same Chinese Web site that published the exploit code used to build the Blaster worm.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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