Microsoft is plugging a host of security holes found not
only in its latest operating system but also in many of its most popular
applications including Office, Internet Explorer and Lync. This month's Patch Tuesday consists of seven bulletins, six
of them critical, that, if exploited, can give attackers power to execute code
on victim machines and control them remotely.
[THREAT: Browsers pose the greatest threat to enterprise, Microsoft reports commits to secure coding standard
pose the greatest threat to enterprise, Microsoft reportsSECURITY: Microsoft
commits to secure coding standard] "To say that all Microsoft products are affected and
everything is affected critically is not an overstatement," says Paul Henry a
security and forensic analyst for Lumension. "It's difficult to prioritize one
or two because all the bulletins likely need your attention."
One patch fixes a Windows font-parsing problem that uses
maliciously crafted files to be mishandled and grant remote execution of code,
says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys. The most likely way of being attacked is
by browsing a malicious Web page or opening an infected document, he says.
The same problem crops up in Silverlight and Lync and are
addressed by separate patches.
Four of the bulletins address vulnerabilities found in most
versions of Windows including Windows 8 and its ARM-based variant Windows RT,
as well as the latest version of Windows Server. "As I've said many times in
the past, it's never a good thing to see the current code base impacted, as
that's supposed to be the most secure version available," Henry says. The most dangerous is a vulnerability found by Tavis Ormandy,
a Google researcher, who revealed it in March without giving Microsoft much
chance to fix it first. That resulted in limited active attacks against the
flaw, says Henry. "Though it's impossible to know for sure, it is my contention
that we would not being seeing any active attacks with this
vulnerability had principles of responsible disclosure been followed," he says.
The same patch addresses a separate vulnerability that is not under active
This month's bulletins include one to fix 17 flaws in
Internet Explorer, something that has become a standard issue over the past few
months. The best advice: upgrade to the latest version of the browser, "that's
typically the most secure version," Henry says.
Kandek says several of the vulnerabilities have an exploitation
index of 1, meaning developing exploits is doable by coordinated efforts of
attackers. "This continues the trend we've seen in recent Patch
Tuesdays with Internet Explorer receiving fixes for lots of memory corruption
vulnerabilities," says BeyondTrust CTO Marc Maiffret. "These vulnerabilities
will be used in drive-by attacks where attackers set up malicious web pages and
use social engineering tactics to draw users to the malicious pages." This month represents an uptick in the number of critical
vulnerabilities addressed. More could come up later this year as Microsoft's
new bug bounty program kicks in. Microsoft is offering up to $100,000 for
vulnerabilities discovered by researchers and turned over to the company. The
goal is to fix more holes before attackers write exploits for them.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Reach him at follow him on Twitter
for Network World and writes theMostly Microsoft blog.
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This story, "Microsoft Patch Tuesday: Windows 8, Internet Explorer, Office, Visual Studio, Lync Are All Vulnerable" was originally published by Network World.