well guess what... you guessed it more Patches from M$ as brought to you by http://theregister.co.uk

Another bundle of three security issues in Microsoft products came out this week. Among them is a nasty bug in Windows-XP Help Center allowing the deletion of entire directories, as we reported a few weeks ago.

A malicious file request, the syntax of which resembles a URL, can be embedded in a Web page or an HTML e-mail. MS rolled the fix silently into SP-1 without making a public announcement at the time. The hole was discovered by Shane Hird of Distributed Systems Technology Centre, who first reported it to MS on 25 June 2002. Now there is apparently a separate patch for the issue, and MS has come forward with the dirt. In typical fashion the company also treats the announcement with far-fetched, PR-driven stretchers and face savers, as we can see from their list of 'mitigating factors'.

The vulnerability can only be exploited with "some degree of user interaction," MS says. "Even in the most attacker-favorable case, the Help and Support Center window would appear unexpectedly and the file deletion could not occur until the user responded. (Even selecting Cancel, though, would enable the deletion to occur). If the user killed the process rather than responding, the deletion could not occur."

That's right, MS considers this a mitigating factor. But wait, there's an even more desperate one: "For an attack to be successful, the user would need to visit a Web site under the attacker's control or receive an HTML e-mail from the attacker."

Which is another way of saying the deletions don't occur spontaneously.

Next, there's a bug in SQL Server allowing privilege escalation which can be exploited locally and remotely if Web tasks are used. A stored procedure fails to set permissions properly when executed and runs with the privileges of the SQL Server. An un-privileged user can run, delete, insert and update Web tasks, according to MS. The flaw affects SQL Server 2K, SQL Server 7, Data Engine 1.0 and Desktop Engine 2K. It was discovered by David Litchfield of NGSS Software and reported to MS on 23 August. Additional details and patches are available here.

Finally, a bit of a stuff up with Word and Excel which can compromise user privacy but isn't harmful to data and offers no system privileges to an attacker. The flaw affects Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, Excel 2002 and Word for Mac. It also affects Outlook and OE where Word is used as the editor.

Field codes, often used to automate the insertion of boilerplate in documents, can be perverted to allow an attacker to use external updates to steal data from other files on a victim's system. In a typical scenario, the attacker sends a malicious document to a victim, and entices the victim to open it and return it. Because of the amount of user interaction needed, the fact that the attacker needs to know the name and location of the file he wants to steal, and the fact that field codes can easily be viewed by the victim, it is not thought to be a terribly serious threat. MS has devised patches, available here.
this is the earlier article found from the link from the register http://theregister.co.uk/content/4/27074.html

A malicious Win-XP Help Center request can easily and silently delete the contents of any directory on your Windows machine, we've learned. Worse, MS has rolled the fix silently into SP1 without making a public announcement. A good sketch of the problem in English, along with a harmless self-test, can be found here, thanks to Mike at http://unity.skankhouse.org, who did some tinkering after noticing a tip on a BBS.

Another, slightly earlier, mention comes from VSAntivirus, but the page, unfortunately, is en español, though there are some handy screen shots in their bulletin.

The hole was discovered by Shane Hird of Distributed Systems Technology Centre, who first reported it to MS on 25 June 2002. His bulletin , dated 15 August, offers the most detailed view of the problem. He suggests that fellow bug hunters look more deeply into the Help Center and its mysterious powers, since requests can remotely open files with elevated privileges. He offers a few hints about where one might start probing.

To verify the exploit all you need to do is pop the following request into any address bar (IE, Win Explorer, etc): hcp://system/DFS/uplddrvinfo.htm?file://c:\test\* and the directory 'test' will be emptied after a couple of Help Center 'wizard' pages pop up uselessly to distract you.

The example works as advertised, so anyone wanting to play with it should create a test directory with copies of files. Of course you can delete your entire root directory with this approach if you so choose. Or someone else's.

The exploit is extremely dangerous because it looks to the casual user just like a URL, and can be sent in an e-mail or set up as a link on a Web page. Promising heaps of free pr0n in a busy IRC channel would also likewise be effective.

To get rid of the vulnerability, you have two choices. You can install XP's new SP1, which will give Billg remote root privileges on your box by virtue of his new, Trojan EULA (and silently re-enable some services you may have disabled like 'automatic update'); or you can just go to C:\Windows\PCHEALTH\HELPCTR\SYSTEM\DFS\ and find the file uplddrvinfo.htm. This you can simply delete or rename. But beware of installing MS patches later on: these have a funny tendency to restore files and settings outside their immediate purview, back to Redmond defaults.

To check it out I did a clean install of XP and verified the exploit on a virgin image. I then installed all of the XP patches and updates except SP1, and it still worked. So SP1 is the only 'official' means of fixing the hole. It's not otherwise been dealt with. Those who object to the SP1 EULA on moral grounds will have to delete or rename uplddrvinfo.htm, and do a search for it after subsequent patching to verify that it's still gone.

Problems with the XP Help Center have been known for some time, at least since November 2001, when this exploitable buffer overflow was first reported. Now the issue has finally been fixed, in the background, with no announcement from Redmond. This means that any XP user who doesn't install SP1, and who never hears of the flaw, will remain vulnerable.

Redmond's handling of the issue is appalling. Apparently, 'Trustworthy Computing' means never having to say you screwed up. ®
heres the links to the patches from M$