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Ancient Flaw Affects Windows NT3.1 through Windows 7

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#1 Andrew


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Posted 21 January 2010 - 10:55 PM

Tavis Ormandy posted this message to the Full Disclosure security mailing list. It describes a flaw in the 16-bit emulation subsystem of the Windows NT kernel. The NT Kernel is the basis for Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. 64-bit versions are unaffected. Microsoft has confirmed the report.

The flaw, if exploited, would allow an attacker to execute programs and commands with full System user rights. In Windows, the System user is even more powerful than the Administrator.

Microsoft was informed of this flaw on June 12, 2009. No patch has been issued.

Further reading:

Edited by Amazing Andrew, 21 January 2010 - 10:58 PM.

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#2 quietman7


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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:16 AM

No patch has become available, although Ormandy reports that Microsoft was already informed of the hole in mid 2009. The developer decided to publish the information regardless because, in his opinion, there is a simple workaround: to disable the MS-DOS subsystem.

The workaround requires users to start the group policy editor and enable the "Prevent access to 16-bit applications" option in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Application Compatibility section.

Some folks are still asking Will 16-bit applications and games be able to run on Windows 7 64-bit?
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#3 Romeo29


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Posted 23 January 2010 - 10:54 AM

Indeed, is it even possible for a 16 bit program to successfully run on Windows 7?
To test, I downloaded some ancient compilers from Borland, compiled a Hello World program in C using my now old P-3 computer. Tried to run it in Windows 7 and Vista, but it failed giving some memory address error.

#4 scff249


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Posted 24 January 2010 - 01:45 PM

Err.....scary.......something that old has come around to be a vulnerability......(actually, what would be scarier is if there was some function from the first computers that was still in these days computers that would cause a vulnerability....but then again, I don't even know if there is something THAT ancient that could be in today's computers.....)

Edited by scff249, 24 January 2010 - 01:47 PM.

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