Today’s Microsoft Patch Day will probably be a bit busier than expected. It looks like Microsoft called a last minute audible, releasing seven security bulletins rather than the five I mention in last week’s security video. The good news is this last minute play change might help your security team win the game by providing your users with a more protected web browser.
February’s Patch Day summary highlights seven security bulletins that fix 32 vulnerabilities in various Microsoft products, including Internet Explorer (IE), Windows and its various components, and Forefront Protection for Exchange. They rate four of these bulletins as Critical, and the rest as Important.
This month, the most important updates are probably the most unexpected ones. Microsoft’s original advisory suggested they planned on releasing updates for Windows and one of their security products (which we now know is Forefront Protection), but they had not mentioned the IE or VBScript updates they released today. However, both these unexpected updates make great additions to this month’s Patch Day. The IE cumulative patch fixes 24 serious vulnerabilities, including one disclosed publicly; many of which attackers can leverage to execute code in drive-by download attacks. Though Microsoft hasn’t seen anyone exploiting these flaws in the wild yet, I expect attackers will surely reverse this update and start exploiting these flaws soon. The VBscript update is no slouch either, as it too fixes a code execution flaw. If bad guys can entice you to a web page with malicious code, they can use these flaws to”pwn” your computer.
Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the expected updates either. Two of them—the critical flaws in Direct2D and Forefront Protection for Exchange—also allow remote attackers to execute code on your systems. In short if you are a Microsoft administrator, you should apply today’s critical updates as soon as you can, and take care of the Important while you’re at it. In general, I recommend you test Microsoft updates before deploying them throughout your production network, especially server related updates that affect critical production servers. This is probably especially this month, for the two surprise updates. Since the IE and VBScript updates came out a bit earlier than expected, they may not have gone through as rigorous a QA process as usual. You might want to give them a whirl on non-production machines, or your virtual testing environment before sharing them with your users.
For more details on today’s Patch Day, check out the February bulletin summary now, or wait for our detailed, consolidated alerts which I’ll post on the blog through the day. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).