Microsoft fixes critical Windows, Office flaws

Microsoft Corp. has issued 10 security updates, fixing critical vulnerabilities in its Windows and Office software.

Six of the updates are for Windows, including a patch for a nasty bug in the operating system’s graphical user interface, which is currently being targeted by attackers. Four updates are for Office, and the final update is for the .Net framework, considered to be less severe than the worst of the Windows and Office bugs.

The patches were released Tuesday as part of Microsoft’s regular monthly security update cycle. Microsoft’s security bulletins on these patches can be found at this Web site.

Six of the 10 updates are rated critical, the most serious rating given by Microsoft.

The most publicized of these flaws is a bug in an ActiveX control called WebViewFolderIcon, which is used by the Windows’ graphical user interface software. This vulnerability was first disclosed in July, but hackers began exploiting it late last month after exploit code taking advantage of it was added to the Metasploit hacking tool.

Microsoft Office has also been the target of a number of extremely limited attacks over the past few months, and on Tuesday Microsoft issued four updates that addressed critical flaws in PowerPoint, Excel and Word, and the Office suite itself. All of these flaws could be exploited by an attacker to run unauthorized software on a victim’s computer, Microsoft said.

The sixth critical update fixes two vulnerabilities in the XML (Extensible Markup Language) parser used by Windows.

Tuesday also marked the end of the line for Windows XP Service Pack 1, which will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Microsoft’s advisory on this issue can be found at Web site.

Hackers have been keeping Microsoft’s Security Response Center busy this past month.

On Sept. 26, the company was forced to issue a rare, “out-of-cycle” security patch after criminals began exploiting a flaw in Internet Explorer’s VML (Vector Markup Language) rendering engine.

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