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Microsoft has released a patch for a "critical" vulnerability in SQL Server which, it says, could give a hacker full control of a Windows 2000 server.

The problem occurs in the Network Connection Manager (NCM) component of Windows 2000, which is used to process and handle network connections made by users.

The NCM is supposed to run at a user security level, which usually limits what actions a user can take on the system. However, the flaw means it can run with greater privileges.

The greater level of privilege within NCM makes it vulnerable to hacking attacks. Microsoft said an attacker could replace a "handling" function within the NCM with his own program, which would run with full system privileges, giving the attacker full control of the machine.

A full cumulative patch, which fixes this and other undisclosed security issues can be downloaded from: www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-043.asp.

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