Microsoft slates 8 bug updates for year's final Patch Tuesday
Critical fixes coming for Windows, Office and IE; may finally patch 8-month-old flaw
Two of the eight updates will patch Windows, another two are aimed at Office, while the remaining four target Internet Explorer (IE), SharePoint, Windows Media Player, and Visual Basic and Visual Studio, Microsoft said today in its monthly advance warning of what to expect next Tuesday.
One of the two updates slated for Windows may be a fix, finally, for an eight-month-old vulnerability that Microsoft first acknowledged in April, and which has been exploited by hackers since mid-October, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc.
"The bulletin Microsoft marked 'Windows 1' looks like the issue in the 951306 advisory," said Storms, referring to the April warning of a rights elevation bug in all versions of Windows. Several weeks before that, Cesar Cerrudo, a researcher and security consultant, said he would disclose a Windows flaw at an upcoming conference; at the time, Microsoft had downplayed the issue, dubbing the problem a "design flaw," not a security bug.
In mid-October, however, Microsoft confirmed that hackers were actively exploiting the unpatched bug.
Overall, said Storms, the patch list for next week looks like a "sampler plate, a smorgasbord if you will, a little of everything."
Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer at Qualys Inc., agreed. "It looks pretty normal and has the usual suspects," he said, ticking off the bulletins aimed at Office, IE and Windows Media Player, all which have been patched several times this year.
Both Storms and Kandek, however, noted significance of the other Windows update. Dubbed "Windows 2" by Microsoft, it will patch newer versions of the operating system -- Vista and Server 2008 -- but is not applicable to older editions, such as Windows 2000, XP or Server 2003.
Typically, it's the other way around, said Kandek. "Vista and Server 2008 were developed in a different way, with the Security Development Lifecycle (or SDL) process, and there was much more scrutiny on the code."
"The bug must be in code [in Vista and Server 2008] from the older versions that was rewritten from scratch, or in something new," said Storms.
Kandek echoed that thought. "We know Vista uses lots of components and code from the older operating systems, but Microsoft also added new services," he said. "This seems to be a vulnerability in a new service."
Of the other bulletins, Kandek pointed to the SharePoint patch as perhaps the most interesting. "We don't see that very often, and it could be interesting because it's on the server side."
Storms, meanwhile, pointed out that the two updates for Office -- which will patch Word and Excel -- are probably fixes for file format bugs since both apply to not only the Windows versions of those applications, but also the corresponding editions for the Mac.
If Microsoft issues all eight bulletins -- at times it has dropped one at the last minute -- it will have released 77 for the year, up from 2007's total of 69 and close to 2006's 78, but far below 2000's record of 100 updates.
Microsoft will release the December security updates at approximately 1 p.m. EST on Tuesday.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- Securing Mobility, From Device to Network At one time, the process of managing and securing mobile devices and applications was fairly straightforward. Most organizations worried about one application (email)...
- Data Protection eGuide In this eGuide, CSO and sister publications IDG News Service, Computerworld, and CIO pull together news, trend, and how-to articles about the increasingly...
- Warning: Cloud Data at Risk Experts agree that relying on SaaS vendors to backup and restore your data is dangerous. Yet that's exactly what huge portions of the...
- The Opportunities and Challenges of the Cloud In this report F5 poses questions to IDC analysts, Sally Hudson and Phil Hochmuth, on behalf of F5's customers to better understand the...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!