Computer Crime Research Center


Department of Homeland Security issues alert about Windows flaws

Date: August 09, 2006

The Department of Homeland Security issued an unusual security alert yesterday, warning users of Windows-based personal computers to patch a flaw in the Microsoft operating system.

On Tuesday, Microsoft issued its monthly list of security flaws, including one that the company rated “critical.” It said an attacker who exploited the vulnerability “could take complete control of an affected system.” That would make it possible to install malicious programs or to change or delete data.

Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security said in a news release that it was urging anyone who used Windows software to install the patch as soon as possible. The department said its Computer Emergency Readiness Team was working with Microsoft to minimize the impact of the vulnerability.

“The department considered it prudent to advise the public using Microsoft operating systems to take this action,” said Russ Knocke, a department spokesman. “It’s a proactive and prudent measure the department has chosen to take.”

Computer security experts said the flaw was similar to one exploited in 2003 by the MSBlast worm, which struck corporate computer systems, brought network traffic to a halt and compromised company data. It was among the most damaging computer viruses to date.
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