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Microsoft slates 22 patches for Windows, IE next week

Aging XP escapes majority of updates planned for Windows

August 4, 2011 03:55 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft today said it will ship 13 security updates next week to patch 22 vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Windows, Visio and Visual Studio.

Next Tuesday's patch lineup is larger than July's on the update count, but matches that month's vulnerability total. That's unusual, since the company usually delivers a heavier load in even-numbered months.

"Twenty-two [vulnerabilities] is not a big month, it's more in the medium range, what with the larger numbers we've seen so far in 2011," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security.

"Overall, it's what we could have expected, although as an 'up' month, the number [of vulnerabilities] isn't up to the usual," said Storms. "The number [of flaws] each month is increasing.... A new baseline is being drawn this year."

In June, for example, Microsoft issued 16 updates -- the company calls them "bulletins" -- that patched 34 bugs. Two months before that, Microsoft fixed 64 flaws with 17 bulletins.

Two of the 13 bulletins for this month's Patch Tuesday were rated "critical" by Microsoft, the highest threat ranking in its four-step system. Nine were pegged "important" and the remaining pair were labeled "moderate."

The usual bi-monthly update for Internet Explorer (IE) was one of the two judged critical, and will probably be the one that most experts recommend users deploy first, said Storms.

"The IE [update] is critical across the board," noted Storms, referring to the details that Microsoft posted in its monthly advance notification today. "True to form, it will be the one most say should be patched first because client-side bugs are the top priority and the most targeted."

All versions of IE will be patched next Tuesday, including the newest edition, IE9. At least some of the bugs -- Microsoft almost always fixes multiple flaws in each of the six browser security updates it does annually -- for each version will be pegged critical, meaning that they can be used by attackers to compromise a Windows PC.

Microsoft first patched IE9 in June, three months after its release, when the company plugged four critical holes in the browser.

The other critical update planned for next week is for the two newest versions of Microsoft's server software, Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2. The eight-year-old Server 2003 is also affected, but Microsoft rated the update as important, not critical, for that edition.

As he as before, Storms today bemoaned the dearth of information that could be gleaned from the advance notice.

"It's a tea leaf month," Storms said. "It's like reading tea leaves. There's very little to go on and a lot of data at the same time. It's just difficult to read anything from what we have here."

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