RealTime IT News

Microsoft Issues Security Update For Trojan

Microsoft is urging customers to immediately install a security update for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 operating systems in order to thwart the impact of the Download.Ject Trojan.

The software giant said the configuration changes would "improve system resiliency" against the Download.Ject attack and protect customers against the immediate reported threats. The changes to the operating systems are meant to plug holes that could help spread malicious files by infected computers.

The update comes in the wake of a recent sophisticated attack against Microsoft's IIS 5.0 servers, which ended when law enforcement took the Web site associated with the attack offline.

Download.Ject, also known as Scob, is a Trojan downloader that started spreading a week ago after attackers planted a file with JavaScript to infected Web sites running Microsoft IIS 5.0 servers.

The attack was thwarted when Web sites that were compromised as a result of the IIS attack were taken offline. But security experts warned that a still-unpatched flaw in the popular Internet Explorer browser was still a security concern in the wake of the attack.

Even the U.S. government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) warned surfers about using Microsoft's IE browser because of "significant vulnerabilities" in technologies embedded in IE.

On Friday, Microsoft moved to blunt the problem, and said the configuration change would be available at its Windows Update page. "Customers who have enabled automatic updates will receive the configuration change automatically. We recommend that customers immediately install this configuration change as soon as it is received," the company said. The security update is meant to block virus code from sneaking onto a user's computer through an infected Web site.

The patch is expected to tide customers over until Microsoft releases a series of security updates to its IE browser in coming weeks, which it said would provide additional protections for customers.

Microsoft also offered customers a page where they can learn more about the Download.Ject attack and clean up their systems if they are infected.

Later this summer, Microsoft plans to release Windows XP Service Pack 2, which will feature major security upgrades across all its networking, Web browsing and e-mail software.

The company issued Release Candidate 2 for SP 2 in June. It includes a tool that checks for third-party anti-virus and firewall software and lets users know whether or not it's enabled and adds a Windows Security Center to the control panel. An Attachment Manager isolates potentially unsafe attachments when initially opened from Outlook Express, Windows Messenger and Internet Explorer.

Many of the upcoming security features are integrated with the IE browser. "The browser is part of the operating system," Tim Goodhew, a Microsoft product manager, told internetnews.com at the company's U.S.-based Tech Ed conference. "This update will change way IE operates within XP." He added that the service pack also will recompile the operating system.

In the meantime, it is urging customers to make sure they are running a firewall on all their PCs and laptops, taking advantage of its automatic updates, and deploying up-to-date antivirus software.