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Netscape laid wide open by security flaw

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Two separate imaging-related security flaws have surfaced in AOL's Netscape browser and in the KDE desktop environment for Unix and Linux, according to security experts. Both could allow an attacker to plant malicious code on a user's system when a specially crafted image is viewed by an affected application, such as a browser, e-mail program or stand-alone viewer, researchers said.

Vulnerabilities in image-viewing components are among the easiest to exploit, particularly when they affect Internet-connected applications such as browsers and email programs, say experts. "If the libraries are used by other types of client applications, where the user has to download a malicious file and open it in a specific application, it complicates the attack a bit," said Thomas Kristensen, CTO of security firm Secunia.

The flaw in Netscape, affecting versions 6.x and 7.x, involves a boundary error in the way Netscape extension 2 blocks handle gif images, according to Internet Security Systems, which disclosed the flaw last month; the bug was patched in Mozilla-based products in March.

But the gif flaw also affects Netscape, and is unpatched, Secunia said in an advisory published on Tuesday. The vulnerability has been confirmed in version 7.2 and also reported in version 6.2.3 but is likely to affect other versions as well, Secunia said.

A separate vulnerability affects KDE's kdelibs, specifically an error in the kimgio component when processing PCX image files. Kimgio is used in KHTML-based Web browsers as well as KDE imaging applications such as kpresenter and ksnapshot, meaning that if an image crafted to exploit the flaw were viewed in any of these applications, they could allow an attacker to execute malicious code. The flaw affects KDE versions 3.2 to 3.4, Secunia said.

A patch is available from KDE and from various Linux distributors, including Suse, Gentoo and Debian.

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