Feeds

Microsoft's delay to patch fuels concerns

Upto the month security policy

Security for virtualized datacentres

Microsoft's decision to cancel a security fix after finding problems with the patch has security experts questioning whether waiting for the fix to come next month might leave them open to attack.

The concerns come after Microsoft announced last Thursday that a critical fix for the Windows operating system would be distributed in the following week. The next day, the software giant pulled the planned patch due to quality issues, according to Mike Reavey, operations manager for the Microsoft Security Research Center.

"Late in the testing process, we encountered a quality issue that we decided was significant enough that it required some more testing and development before releasing it," Reavey said in a posting to the MSRC Blog. "We have made a commitment to only release high-quality updates that fix the issues at hand, and therefore we felt it was in the best interest of our customers to not release this update until it undergoes further testing."

The few details that the software giant has provided - the flaw is a critical bug in Windows and does not require a reboot to fix - will not likely help would-be flaw finders to narrow their search. If the company had actually released a flawed patch, attackers could have reverse engineered the fix to find the original flaw. Since no real details of the issue were published, however, there is little danger, a spokesperson for the software giant said.

Yet, the move has left network administrators feeling vulnerable. The knowledge that a critical flaw is being left untended has security researchers second guessing whether Microsoft plans to release the patch next month, and if so, has the company's focus on regularly scheduled patching put them in danger.

"There's knowledge of a flaw and, because (Microsoft) can't meet the deadline of the next few days, they're going to delay it a month," said one member of the DShield mailing list. "So from a security point of view, we have a hole that is known but not patched."

The person who posted the criticism did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

Microsoft has not specified when the company plans to release the patch. The release schedule will be determined by "customer need," a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

While another month's ferment may not make the current vulnerability more threatening, the move towards scheduled patches generally makes corporate customers less secure, said Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer for eEye Digital Security and a critic of scheduled security updates.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.