Another Windows WMF security hole discovered
January 4, 2006
According to Microsoft, the company will issue a new Windows security patch for a widely known vulnerability in the Windows operating system, as part of its monthly update cycle.
Microsoft says hackers can use this security hole to take control of a computer through a specially crafted Windows Metafile (.wmf) image.
Such an image can be used on a website or sent by email or in an instant message. Microsoft and various security vendors have reported that attackers are actively using all these methods in an attempt to infect systems.
Security website Secunia gave the vulnerability its most severe rating of 'extremely critical'.
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All versions of Windows are vulnerable, according to security provider F-Secure, but systems running Windows XP or Server 2003 are most at risk.
Microsoft has developed a patch for the security hole and is currently testing it to enable a release next week.
Although Microsoft acknowledged that the flaw is being actively exploited, the company claimed that the scope of the attacks is not widespread.
Antivirus software is blocking most of the attacks through updated signature files, allowing the security software to recognise infected files before they can cause any harm, according to Microsoft.
Russian software engineer Ilfak Guilfanov has already released an unofficial fix which F-Secure has endorsed on its company blog.
Users who choose to install Guilfanov's patch will have to uninstall it before they run next week's Microsoft patch.
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