Microsoft has encountered a critical vulnerability in Windows 98, 98 SE and Windows Me that it simply cannot fix, the company acknowledged Friday. The flaw affects Windows Explorer and after investigating the issue, Microsoft said it would need to reengineer a significant amount of the operating system.
Announced as part of April's security bulletins
, a remote execution vulnerability exists in Windows Explorer because of the way that it handles COM objects. A malicious Web site could force a connection to a remote file server, which in turn causes Explorer to fail and potentially execute arbitrary code.
Microsoft says an attacker could take complete control of affected operating systems in this manner. Patches correcting the flaw were issued for Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003, but the vulnerability remains unpatched on Windows 9x based systems.
The Redmond company says that because it would need to re-architecture Windows Explorer in those legacy systems to better match Windows 2000, a fix just isn't feasible. According to the updated bulletin
, Microsoft could not ensure that applications written for Windows 9x would continue to operate as intended after the changes.
Moreover, Microsoft has little incentive to expend the resources necessary to patch the flaw. Support for Windows 98, 98 SE and Windows Me ends on July 11
, which means no more security updates will be released and no technical or public support will be provided.
>> Source: BetaNews