Microsoft yesterday released an advisory notice urging users of its IIS web server to download a patch for an exploit that could allow an intruder to execute arbitrary code on the server.
The software giant's announcement comes only days after a previous bulletin about another serious flaw in the same operating software. Now, both IIS 4 and 5 are vulnerable to a flaw that causes the server to run an extra security check every time a URL is requested that runs a server side script.
When the script is run, IIS performs a decoding pass and then performs security checks on the decoded request. But a second 'superfluous' decoding pass is performed after the security checks.
Microsoft said: "If an attacker submitted a specially constructed request, it could be possible for the request to pass the security checks, but then be mapped via the second decoding pass into one that should have been blocked."
"Specifically, it could enable the request to execute operating system commands or programs outside the virtual folder structure," the company added.
This is not as serious as the exploit in the IIS printing protocol discovered two weeks ago because it would only allow the attacker capabilities similar to those of a non-administrative user.
Microsoft also pointed out that "the vulnerability does not provide a way for the attacker to learn the folder structure on the server. As a result, if the operating system were installed on a separate drive from the web root, or in non-standard folders, it could prevent an attacker from locating programs of interest."
The associated patch to fix the vulnerability also plugs two other holes, one of which could allow for a denial of service attack against the FTP service by issuing a command containing a wildcard sequence. When expanded, this would overrun the allocated memory and cause an access violation.
The other is a vulnerability that could make it easier for an attacker to find Guest accounts that had been inadvertently exposed via FTP.
The advisory and relevant patch is available here.
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