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It turns out that by fixing the ani exploit, Microsoft inadvertently broke more than just the few applications we know of. It also broke ElsterFormular, which according to AV expert Andreas Marx:

“…has to be used by ALL companies, if they want to declare their VAT tax, their license tax as well as their income/wage tax if they are not using the service of a tax advisor. Companies need to declare their taxes either monthly or every quarter, depending on the money they need to pay.

For monthly payments (this means, for March 2007), the taxes need to be declared by April 10, 2007 and if you need to declare it quarterly, the taxes for Q1/2007 needs to be declared by April 10, 2007, too. If you don’t declare your taxes in a timely manner, you can get fined, of course.”

Well, of course, a patch is available now but Andreas is concerned that this fix won’t be known by loyal Germans anxious to pay their taxes, because the German version of Microsoft’s advisory doesn’t mention ElsterFormular, only the English-language version does (something which I’m sure Microsoft will fix very soon).

But for those non-advisory-reading Germans, since the hotfix is planned for a rollout next Tuesday, Germans may not find the tool working until Wednesday — hence meaning that they may miss the tax filing deadline of April 10th.

This little eddy lends significant credibility to Microsoft’s arguments as to why they have to go through such an exhaustive process to get patches out, since so many things can break. Regardless, I’m still very pleased that Microsoft broke their patch cycle to fix this exploit, which was not a trivial one.

I just hope Fritz comes out ok.

Alex Eckelberry