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Microsoft patches critical drive-by IE9 bug, Windows zero-day

July 10, 2012 04:24 PM ET

But what got Miller and Storm to pay attention wasn't so much the IE9 update but that it followed June's cumulative patch for Microsoft's browser.

Microsoft has long used an every-other-month tempo for IE update, shipping patches for its browser only on even-numbered months. Today, the company quit that habit.

"We have ... increased our Internet Explorer resources to the point where we will be able to release an update during any month instead of on our previous, bi-monthly cadence," said Yunsun Wee, a director in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, in a post to the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) blog.

Storms praised Microsoft decision to ditch the bi-monthly updates. "IE is the most-used application in Windows, so it ought to be updated as soon and as often as possible," he said.

Miller agreed. "Bi-monthly is just too long between updates," Miller said. "I'd rather have it patched sooner than later."

Other browsers, notably Google's Chrome and to a lesser extent, Mozilla's Firefox, have been patched much more frequently than every-other month: Chrome often receives several security updates each month, while Firefox is regularly patched every six weeks.

While some researchers assumed that Microsoft has added staff to streamline its testing of IE updates -- and thus be able to turn around patches faster -- Storms did not. Instead, he saw the shift to possible monthly IE patching as simply a mechanism for getting out fixes as they're completed, rather than waiting for the next bi-monthly cycle.

Also on the top-three list of Microsoft, Miller and Storms is MS12-045, a one-patch critical update for Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC), code that lets Windows access databases such as Microsoft's own SQL Server.

MDAC was last updated by Microsoft in August 2011.

"All three of the critical updates patch vulnerabilities that can be effectively exploited through the browser, including MS12-045," said Storms. Because such attacks do not require any user interaction -- other than to be suckered into surfing to a malicious site -- they're dubbed "drive-by attacks," and as such are considered the most dangerous to users and the most likely to be leveraged by attackers.

Microsoft also patched SharePoint, its enterprise-grade collaboration platform; Office for Mac 2011, the newest edition of that suite; Visual Basic for Applications; and other parts of Windows, including kernel mode drivers and the Windows Shell.

July's nine security updates can be downloaded and installed via the Microsoft Update and Windows Update services, as well as through WSUS.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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