Feeds

Microsoft Santa gifts you with 5 critical fixes in Xmas Patch Tuesday

Still using Word? You'll want to read this

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

December's Patch Tuesday brought seven bulletins from Microsoft, five of which cover critical security vulnerabilities.

A critical update for MS Word (MS12-079) is rated by security watchers as the most important of the batch. A flaw in Rich Text Format (RTF) processing poses a severe risk because Microsoft Outlook automatically displays the malicious text in the Preview Pane - without requiring user interaction.

Another critical update (MS12-077) tackles security bugs in Internet Explorer 9 and 10, and creates a risk of drive-by download attacks involving tricking users into visiting websites contaminated with malicious code.

A further critical update fixes a vulnerability in Windows file-handling component while the remaining items on the critical list grapple with vulnerabilities in Windows kernel-mode drivers involving font handling and security bugs in Microsoft Exchange, arising from the inclusion of buggy versions of Oracle Outside In file conversion software.

A graphical overview of the patches can be found in a post by the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre blog here. Microsoft's bulletin is here.

Trustwave SpiderLabs has written a blog post comparing this week's patch batch to different brands of beer. IE updates are compared to Guinness Draught while the remote code execution in kernel-mode drivers is racked alongside 120 Minute IPA.

Microsoft also used Patch Tuesday to publish a new whitepaper on defensive techniques against "Pass the Hash" attacks. "Pass the Hash" is a technique used by attackers after the initial exploit, in which they use the stored password hashes to gain access to other machines in a local network. Such stepping stone attacks are standard network hacking practice, so defending against them using better configuration practices makes a lot of sense.

The seven bulletins in December bring the total count for 2012 to 83, a significant reduction on the 100 bulletins in 2011 and even more from the 2010 count, which ended with 106 bulletins.

Adobe recently began co-ordinating its security patch releases with Microsoft's output. Tuesday offered security updates to Adobe ColdFusion 10 (and earlier) and Flash Player. The Flash update is configuration dependent, but can be critical, while the Cold Fusion security patch is given the lower status of "important". ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
SHELLSHOCKED: Fortune 1000 outfits Bash out batches of patches
CloudPassage points to 'pervasive' threat of Bash bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.