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Update for "Malformed IPX Ping Packet" Vulnerability

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Released: August 03, 2000

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Summary
Issue
Affected Software Versions
Patch Availability
More Information
Obtaining Support on this Issue

Summary

Microsoft has released a patch that eliminates a security vulnerability in Microsoft® Windows 95, 98 and 98 Second Edition. The vulnerability could be used to cause an affected system to fail, and depending on the number of affected machines on a network, potentially could be used to flood the network with superfluous data. The affected system component generally is present only if it has been deliberately installed.

Frequently asked questions regarding this vulnerability and the patch can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms00-054.mspx.

Issue

The Microsoft IPX/SPX protocol implementation (NWLink) supports the IPX Ping command via the diagnostic port 0x456. Because of a flaw in the implementation of the protocol in Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition, NWLink in these systems will respond to an IPX ping packet even when the source network address has been purposely modified to a broadcast address. This would give a malicious user an opportunity to launch an attack by broadcasting a single ping request—each affected machine that received the ping would respond to it, potentially resulting in a broadcast storm. In a large network, this could temporarily swamp the network's bandwidth. In addition, upon seeing its own response, each affected machine would attempt to process it, triggering a scenario that would culminate in the machine's failure. A machine that failed due to this vulnerability could be put back into service by rebooting.

IPX is not installed by default in Windows 98 and 98 Second Edition, and is only installed by default in Windows 95 if there is a network card present in the machine at installation time. Even when IPX is installed, a malicious user's ability to exploit this vulnerability would depend on whether he could deliver a Ping packet to an affected machine. Routers frequently are configured to drop IPX packets, and if such a router lay between the malicious user and an affected machine, he could not attack it. Routers on the Internet, as a rule, do not forward IPX packets, and this would tend to protect intranets from outside attack, as well as protecting machines connected to the Internet via dial-up connections. As discussed in the FAQ, the most likely scenario in which this vulnerability could be exploited would be one in which a malicious user on an intranet would attack affected machines on the same intranet, or one in which a malicious user on the Internet attacked affected machines on on his cable modem or DSL subnet.

Affected Software Versions

  • Microsoft Windows 95

  • Microsoft Windows 98

  • Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition

Patch Availability

Microsoft Windows 95

Click here to copy 265334US5.EXE to your computer

More Information

Please see the following references for more information related to this issue.

Obtaining Support on this Issue

This is a fully supported patch. Information on contacting Microsoft Technical Support is available at http://support.microsoft.com/support/contact/default.asp.

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