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Microsoft puts Patch Tuesday on a diet, fixes Office flaw

Just one critical vuln in light update

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Microsoft is planning a light October edition of its regular Patch Tuesday updates next week that focuses on Office flaws and features just one critical patch.

The critical bulletin features a vulnerability in Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 as well as Word Viewer and Microsoft Office Web Apps. Office for Mac is not affected. The critical vulnerability designation is "not very common for Office vulnerabilities and typically indicates that no user interaction, such as opening an affected file, is required to trigger the vulnerability," Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of security tools firm Qualys, writes.

The vulnerability is of a type that might easily lend itself to malware attacks, so caution is advisable even though nothing bad has been reported as yet. "We recommend being alert for the first Bulletin and prepare for a fast roll-out of that update," Kandek added.

The other six bulletins are all rated important. Three of upcoming updates affect components of the Office family (Works 9, Infopath and Sharepoint) while two both involve privilege elevation flaws in Windows. The final bulletin covers an update for all versions of MS-SQL Server, also tackling a local escalation-of-privilege vulnerability.

The light Patch Tuesday in October follows a scramble to fix a Java-related 0day security vulnerability affecting all versions of Internet Explorer last month. Redmond addressed the issue with an out-of-schedule patch five days after it first appeared in attacks and exploits.

Marcus Carey, security researcher at Rapid7, commented: "It should be a relief to many that none of the bulletins requires immediate attention, as none of them address vulnerabilities being exploited in the wild; all were privately reported vulnerabilities. This means that there isn’t any publicly known exploit code for this month’s bulletin cycle."

Carey added that Microsoft's October updates will disallow the use of certificates that are less than 1024-bit encrypted, a measure introduced as a means to tighten up security shortcomings, and, specifically, exploits by the Flame cyber-espionage tool. "This could result in headaches for organisations who still have legacy certificates in production. This weekend will be the last weekend to clean up legacy certificates before next Tuesday," he added. ®

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