Microsoft's Patching Problem

Wednesday, 18 December 2002, 1:14 PM EST

Last month, when a gaping security Relevant Products/Services from IBM hole was found in Internet Explorer that could allow a hacker to take control of a user's hard drive, Microsoft initially labeled the flaw's severity "moderate."

The exploit affected all Windows users running IE versions 5.5 or 6.0, and potentially those using Outlook or Outlook Express. It enabled hackers to gain access to users' computers by luring visitors to a booby-trapped Web page.

Soon afterward, Microsoft's "moderate" rating decision came under attack by the tech community, led by postings to the Bugtraq mailing list by Thor Larholm, a consultant at security firm PiVX Solutions, detailing the flaw's serious nature. "I definitely thought they were downplaying the severity of [the flaw] quite extremely," Larholm told NewsFactor.

"Not even two weeks before that patch was released, they released another critical patch, also for Internet Explorer," Larholm added. "The entire public image of having to release two critical patches on almost a weekly basis, that's bad."

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