Microsoft Scrambles to Fix Security Hole in Vista, Server 2008

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft has alerted users to a critical security hole in both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The flaw does not affect users of Windows 7.

The flaw leaves both operating systems vulnerable to malicious remote control, though in many cases, the systems will simply stop responding and restart.

Microsoft Server 2008 is the tech giant’s latest entry into server-management operating systems. The security flaw specifically affects Microsoft Server’s server message block, or SMB, functionality. SMB functionality oversees shared access to files, printers, serial ports and other communications.

"Microsoft is investigating new public reports of a possible vulnerability in Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) implementation," Microsoft said. "We are not aware of attacks that try to use the reported vulnerabilities or of customer impact at this time."

Admins and other tech professionals should be advised that the security breach is what’s known as a “zero-day” flaw, meaning that hackers figured it out before Microsoft did.

But that doesn’t mean Microsoft is waiting around. The company has enlisted the aid of other security software companies to plug the hole. Microsoft may be forced to release an extra patch outside of its usual software release cycle to address the problem.

Users who are still working with the “release candidate” version of Windows 7 are still vulnerable to the attack. Release candidates are preliminary versions of software that companies distribute in hopes of ferreting out bugs and other problems.

The final version of Windows 7 is not vulnerable to the flaw. Neither are Windows XP or Windows 2000.

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