January 5, 2006


Microsoft Releases Windows Meta File Patch Early


January 5, 2006 4:29 p.m.




NEW YORK -- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Thursday is releasing a patch for the Windows Meta File vulnerability that had spawned hundreds of malicious Web sites and millions of spam emails in recent days as hackers sought to take advantage of the flaw in the Windows operating system.


"The development and testing teams have put forth a considerable effort to address this issue and respond to the strong customer sentiment that the release should be made available as soon as possible," a company spokesman said in an emailed statement.


Microsoft earlier planned to release the update as part of its scheduled, once-a-month security update on Tuesday. The flaw initially was discovered last week, and attempts to exploit it spread rapidly earlier this week, raising alarm in computer security circles.


SecureWorks, an Atlanta security firm, said that 104 of its 1,300 clients had been subject to attacks related to the vulnerability.


Customers can download the patch at Microsoft's Web site ( Microsoft only resorts to ad hoc security releases if it deems the flaw critical. It's taken this step only a handful of times over the past two years.


The flaw opened a hole when users viewed Windows Meta File images. The vulnerability could allow hackers to install spyware to steal personal data or take control of a computer.


The bug was found in current server and desktop versions of Windows and was considered serious because it required relatively minor user interaction to be unleashed.


-By Chris Reiter, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5244;



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