Patch to be Issued as Microsoft Fixes Exploit

It appears a hole in Microsoft operating systems will soon be closed.

The computing giant will release a patch Tuesday following a rash of hacker attacks over the past few days. They stem from an announcement Thursday of an exploit through their animated cursor files.

The Microsoft announcement came before a fix had been configured, so hackers took advantage by attacking systems around the world.

"From our ongoing monitoring of the situation, we can say that over this weekend attacks against this vulnerability have increased somewhat," wrote Christopher Budd, security program manager at Microsoft's Security Response Center, in a blog on Sunday. "Additionally, we are aware of public disclosure of proof-of-concept code. In light of these points, and based on customer feedback, we have been working around the clock to test this update and are currently planning to release the security update that addresses this issue on Tuesday, April 3, 2007."

Though the emergency patch will hopefully solve these issues with Microsoft, those who have been affected and those who haven't are prepared for the worst.

It's a scenario no computer user wants to see, a PC hemorrhaging from a virus, one that found a hole in the system. With this recently announced Microsoft exploit, hackers have taken advantage.

One victim is KBTX.

"We have to shut down every system we have and disconnect it from the network," said Chief Engineer Kris Swearingen, "and then clean off each computer individually before you can turn any of the others back on."

Swearingen and News Three's engineers have been working since this weekend trying to shore up systems. KBTX's parent company, Gray Communications, had around a dozen stations nearly crippled. News Three experienced less-than-catastrophic problems, but have been fluctuating in and out of Internet and computer capability.

"You're going to have to grin and bear it," Swearingen said. "There's always going to be somebody out there writing code to try to mess your world up. We got very messed up this time."

Not messed up: St. Joseph Regional Health Center. They've experienced no issues, but stress that their life-saving equipment is protected from such incidents.

"Our clinical-based systems really run off a separate system that has an underlying piece in Microsoft, but doesn't run the Windows component, so it's relatively safe," said Tim Ottinger, a spokesperson for St. Joseph.

In fact, the hospital runs drills multiple times a year in case of a major computer failure. Paperless medical care may be the wave of the future, but problems can occur.

"It just reminds us how wonderful having a computer is when you have to do things on paper," Ottinger said.

Hopefully, that computing scenario won't come to pass anytime soon.

Details from InformationWeek.com were used in this report.


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