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13 Dec 2006

Microsoft releases critical security patches, but Word vulnerability remains

Companies and home users urged to apply patches now

Several of the security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's software are rated as critical
Several of the security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's software are rated as critical

As part of its monthly patch distribution, Microsoft has issued a series of new security updates for Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Visual Studio 2005. Some of the vulnerabilities addressed by the patches are rated as critical, and if left could allow hackers to remotely execute code (such as a worm) on vulnerable PCs.

The patches do not contain a fix for the zero day Microsoft Word vulnerability announced last week. Microsoft is believed to still be investigating that issue.

"On many occasions hackers have taken advantage of Microsoft vulnerabilities in the hours and days after an announcement like this, so it's essential that businesses and home users patch themselves as soon as possible," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "To properly protect your PC from the hackers you need to not only practise safe computing, but also ensure it is receiving regular security patches, as well as defended by anti-malware software and a strong firewall. Anything less is asking for trouble."

Home users of Microsoft Windows can visit update.microsoft.com to have their systems scanned for critical Microsoft security vulnerabilities.

Sophos suggests that every IT manager responsible for security should consider subscribing to vulnerability mailing lists such as that operated by Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/notify.mspx.

Sophos continues to recommend companies protect their desktops and servers with automatically updated protection against viruses, spyware, and spam.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.