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Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle unite with massive patch batch

Patch Tuesday Extreme Edition

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

It was an extreme version of Patch Tuesday as Microsoft, Adobe Systems, and Oracle released updates that fixed dozens of critical vulnerabilities in their wares.

As part of Microsoft's monthly patch regimen, the software giant issued 11 updates that patched a total of 25 bugs. At least three of the vulnerabilities resided in media software and created the possibility of a user getting hacked by listening or viewing a booby-trapped audio or video file. One such bug resided in Windows Vista, which was designed under Microsoft's highly vaunted secure development lifecycle, though the more recent Windows 7 was unaffected.

A separate vulnerability that affects Windows 7 - and virtually every other version of the operating system - made it possible for attackers to remotely execute malicious software by sending end users specially manipulated SMB, or server message block, queries used to share files over networks. Microsoft has been working on the fix since at least November, when researchers warned the new SMB functionality was vulnerable to a nasty denial-of-service attack.

At least eight of the vulnerabilities are likely to be targeted by reliable exploits in the wild Microsoft said.

Adobe, meanwhile, fixed 15 security flaws in its Reader and Acrobat software for viewing PDF files. The software maker rated the update "critical," meaning attackers can exploit the bugs to take control of end users' computers.

Adobe also unveiled a feature that will automatically install Reader and Acrobat updates. It may take as long as seven days for the auto updater to be activated on its own, but users can manually kickstart the process by opening the applications and choosing "check for updates" from the help menu. From then on, the updater will query Adobe servers every three days, which should ensure that patches are automatically installed no more than 72 hours after they're released.

Oracle released 47 updates of its own to patch security bugs in a variety of applications, including Database Server, Fusion Middleware, Collaboration Suite, E-Business Suite, and PeopleSoft Enterprise.

The extreme Patch Tuesday is the result of Microsoft's monthly update release coinciding with the quarterly patch cycle from Adobe and Oracle. Making matters harder for admins, many of the patches will require machines to be rebooted. ®

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