Critical Windows patch may wreak PC havoc

October 14, 2005
Joris Evers

Takeaway:
Patch to fix serious Windows flaws can lock users out of their computer, prevent the Windows firewall from starting, block applications and cause other trouble.

A Microsoft patch meant to fix critical security flaws in Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 is causing trouble for some users, the company said Friday.

The patch was released Tuesday to fix four Windows flaws, including one that experts predict will be exploited by a worm in the coming days. The flaw, tagged "critical" by Microsoft, lies in a Windows component for transaction processing called the Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator, or MSDTC.

Installing the patch can cause serious problems, Microsoft said in an advisory posted to its Web site Friday. The patch could lock users out of their PC, prevent the Windows Firewall from starting, block certain applications from running or installing, and empty the network connections folder, among other things, the software maker said.

The trouble appears to occur only when default permission settings on a Windows directory have been changed, according to Microsoft. The software maker has received "limited reports" of problems from customers but is still investigating the issue, a representative said.

Even if users experience PC trouble after installing the patch, they will still be protected against any attack exploiting the Windows flaw, a Microsoft representative said. The patch was delivered with Microsoft security bulletin MS05-051.

To resolve any problems caused by the MS05-051 patch http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sec.../ms05-051.mspx, users should restore the default permissions for the Windows folder and the COM+ catalog. A guide is available on the Microsoft Web site, and steps start with changing the permissions on the "registration" folder in the Windows directory.


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