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Microsoft patches Y2K-like bug in on-prem Exchange Server • The Register

Microsoft patches Y2K-like bug in on-prem Exchange Server • The Register
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Microsoft kicked off 2022 by releasing a patch for Exchange Server 2016 and 2019, both of which had an “latent date issue” that resulted in emails being queued instead of being sent to inboxes.

“The issue is related to the date check failing with the new year change,” states a January 1st post in the Exchange Blog.

The Exchange malware scan engine is the source of the problem, Exchange checks the version of this software and then tries to write the date into a variable. But the maximum value for this variable is 2,147,483,647 and the value Exchange is trying to write – 2,201,010,001, to reflect the date January 1, 2022, at midnight – exceeds the maximum variable.

So the malware engine crashes when it reads the variable.

Deprived of the Exchange malware scanner – an important component of the mail server – mail queues instead of being sent.

Wag called Reddit the chaos “The Y2K22 bug,” referring to the infamous Y2K bug that caused early programmers who adopted the DD/MM/YY date format to use less memory than required by the DD/MM/YYYY format. Unfortunately, this decision meant that many systems would assume January 1, 2000, to be the first day of 1900, which could lead to some hilarious absurdity.

The error that occurred in 2000 was fixed after years of costly efforts.

Fixing Exchange clutter needs some work, too. While Microsoft released a script to resolve the situation, the company’s Exchange team warned “it will take some time to make the necessary changes, download updated files, and clear transfer queues.”

Microsoft’s post about the bug and how to address it was updated seven times between publication on January 1st and the time this story was published. Chats on Microsoft forums and elsewhere indicate that the fix can be tricky to apply, and sometimes fail.

All of this means that Exchange admins are off to an incredibly fun start to 2022 – who wouldn’t love a deluge of polite inquiries from users who got annoyed at not being able to access email? Thanks Microsoft. ®

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