Next Tuesday is a big deal. Yes, it is Valentine’s Day, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It is also the second Tuesday in the month of February which makes it Patch Tuesday. Microsoft revealed today that there are nine new security bulletins slated for next Tuesday -- Happy Valentine’s Day?
Of the nine security bulletins, four are rated as Critical and the remaining five are all Important. Based on the limited information Microsoft shares in the Patch Tuesday preview, the security updates impact Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, the .NET framework, Silverlight, and Microsoft Server software.
Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek declares in a blog post that the Internet Explorer update should get urgent attention. “There is the expected critical update to Internet Explorer which should be highest priority. After all, we saw last month how quickly attackers are incorporating browser based attacks into their toolkits; an exploit for MS12-004 was detected a mere 15 days after Patch Tuesday.”
Marcus Carey, a security researcher at Rapid7, agrees that the Web browser is a crucial weak point for many consumers and organizations. “We’re seeing a great many browser patches from Microsoft these days because researchers and attackers have realized that browser exploits have the most potential for harm and are currently the best attack surface. Browser-based attacks will certainly continue to be an attack vector from here on.”
Carey also notes that one of the security bulletins is the third Critical update impacting .NET framework and Silverlight in just the past few months. He points out that media players and browser plug-ins are popular attack vectors, so any technology that is capable of exploiting the browser -- either directly or indirectly -- is getting increased attention from both attackers and security researchers.
Nine security bulletins is not quite the avalanche that we saw repeatedly with record-setting months in 2011, but it is also big enough to keep IT admins busy. Lumension security and forensic analyst Paul Henry believes nine is a relatively light Patch Tuesday, though. “Clearly, the company’s renewed focus is paying off. Now if folks would just follow through and patch!”
Many of the updates will require a system reboot, so IT admins should be prepared to test and deploy the patches at a time that provides minimum impact or downtime for users.
Hey Microsoft, if you’re looking for some Valentine’s Day gift ideas, next year I’d prefer some chocolate, or maybe just a nice card.