Microsoft releases high priority security bulletins

Windows users at risk from critical and important vulnerabilities

One of the security bulletins has been rated as critical by Microsoft.Experts at Sophos have advised companies to keep up-to-date with the latest Microsoft security patches and consider the benefits of Network Access Control (NAC) in light of the announcement of new security flaws affecting Windows.

As part of its monthly "Patch Tuesday" schedule Microsoft has issued two new bulletins (one of them described as "critical") about security vulnerabilities in its software. The vulnerabilities - the first announced by Microsoft so far this year - cover different versions of the Windows operating system, including Windows XP and Vista.

The more serious of the bulletins addresses a Windows TCP/IP vulnerability that could allow a remote code execution, giving an attacker complete control of the system with no user intervention.

Sophos recommends that organizations roll-out the patches as a matter of urgency, as some of them could enable hackers to access data on a vulnerable PC or run malicious code such as a worm.

Network Access Control enables companies to control who and what is allowed onto their network; blocking unauthorized users, controlling guest access, and ensuring compliance with a business's security policy. By implementing NAC firms reduce the risk of unauthorized, guest, non-compliant, or infected systems compromising the network, ensuring that only correctly secured computers gain network access.

A poll recently published by Sophos found that 70 percent of those surveyed believe that 2008 will actually be just as bad or worse for IT security than 2007.

"2008 is likely to be a similar story to 2007 on the patch front, with a stream of vulnerabilities coming to light that home users and businesses need to protect themselves against. Leaving your computers unpatched means that you are risking becoming the victim of a hacker attack," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Network Access Control can help organizations enforce security policies, ensuring that any non-compliant device is locked down and unable to jeopardize the network."

Sophos suggests that every IT manager responsible for security should consider subscribing to vulnerability mailing lists such as that operated by Microsoft at

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