Final Patch Tuesday of 2012 includes five 'critical' updates

Microsoft is finishing the year with seven new security bulletins--and five are rated 'critical'.

Today is the last Patch Tuesday of the year. There are seven new security bulletins from Microsoft this month, and five of them are rated "critical." If you use Windows, Microsoft Office, or Internet Explorer, you've got some work to do to get these new patches applied.

MS12-082 and MS12-083, security bulletins related to flaws in DirectPlay and IP-HTTPS respectively, are rated Important. The Critical security bulletins apply to the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, the Internet Explorer Web browser, and Microsoft Exchange Server--and a few of them require a restart for the patch to take effect.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, singles out MS12-077--the cumulative update for Internet Explorer--as the most urgent of the bunch. "Attackers will be targeting online holiday shoppers with this bug, so patch this before you do anything else."

Storms also notes the unusual fact that the critical flaw in IE affects all versions, but is only exploitable on the newer versions, which are ostensibly "more secure" than their predecessors, including IE10 on Windows RT. Storms quips, "We can be sure this bug is not a gift Microsoft wanted to receive this holiday season."

In a blog post, Kaspersky Labs expert Kurt Baumgartner spotlights MS12-079--the Microsoft Office security bulletin. Baumgartner stresses that Microsoft Office has been a very popular target as an attack vector for spear phishing attacks in 2012. He points out that much of the attention from malware developers that used to be reserved for Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash exploits seems to now be invested in cranking out exploits aimed at Microsoft Office.

The Microsoft Office vulnerability is particularly concerning because the exploit does not require any user interaction. The RTF email flaw can be triggered just by viewing a malformed email in the Outlook preview pane.

Barring some sort of urgent zero-day exploit requiring an out-of-band patch, Microsoft will finish the year with a total of 83 security bulletins. That is a 17 percent drop from 2011, and a more than 20 percent drop in the annual security bulletin total compared to 2010.

It's not all about the security bulletins themselves, though. Each security bulletin might actually address a handful of underlying vulnerabilities, so the number of security bulletins don't necessarily tell the whole story.

What is arguably more impressive than the general decline in total security bulletins is the more consistent number of security bulletins from month to month this year. The past couple years it seems like Microsoft has gone from one or two security bulletins one month to 10 or more the next month like a yo-yo.

Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek believes the more consistent rhythm is indicative of a more mature process. Hopefully that is true, and IT admins can look forward to a smooth release pattern in 2013 as well.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags patchesMicrosoftsecurityWindowssoftwaremicrosoft officeoperating systemsInternet Explorerbusiness security

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tony Bradley

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts