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Windows kernel bug-squish, IE update star in July Patch Tuesday

Plus: Dodgy app unpatched for 180 days? We'll kick it out of Marketplace

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Microsoft's Patch Tuesday for July landed overnight with a bumper crop of seven bulletins, six of which cover critical flaws that carry remote code execution risks.

And the Windows 8 giant today revealed that one of these, CVE-2013-3163, is currently under active attack online.

Every supported operating system, every version of MS Office, Lync, Silverlight, Visual Studio and .NET will need patching - creating plenty of work for sysadmins worldwide.

The patch batch grapples with a total of 34 vulnerabilities, with the emphasis very firmly on workstation (PC) rather than server software.

Altogether three of the bulletins patched flaws roughly matching the profile of the Windows kernel security issue that Google’s Tavis Ormandy disclosed back in May (CVE-2013-3660).

The top two patching priorities are a Windows kernel issue (MS13-053) and the Internet Explorer patch bundle (MS13-055), which addresses 17 vulnerabilities in Microsoft's browser software.

Microsoft revised the latter, bulletin 55, just after publication to announce that it is "aware of targeted attacks attempting to exploit the vulnerability described in CVE-2013-3163 through Internet Explorer 8". Redmond said that the application of the update would protect customers from any exploits of the vuln.

Also, for the first time ever, Microsoft is addressing a single vulnerability (CVE-2013-3129) in three different advisories (MS13-052, MS13-053, and MS13-054).

"This issue relates to TrueType Font processing and legitimately affects different components," explained Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering at Rapid7.

"By splitting this out, Microsoft is directly addressing a complaint about previous 'rolled up' advisories where it was difficult to properly prioritise the multiple patches required to remediate the problem, and component patches were frequently missed."

A visual overview of the patching menu for July can be found in a blog post by the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre here.

Crap apps and Flash patch dash

Microsoft also announced a policy change related to the Windows marketplace. In future, any "app" that is affected by a security issue will be removed from the store if it is not patched within 180 days of confirmation of a potential problem. Security watchers will be interested to see in Google or Apple adopt a similar policy.

In other patching news, Adobe released security updates for Adobe Shockwave (APSB13-18), Coldfusion (APSB13-19) and Adobe Flash player (APSB13-17).

"Users of Internet Explorer 10 and Google Chrome already have [Flash] updates integrated and do not need to worry about installing the new version themselves," notes Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of cloud security firm Qualys.

"Everybody else, including Mac OS X users, should apply this critical update as quickly as possible."

Those at the security coalface will have little time to kick back after installing these updates. Oracle will be releasing their quarterly update for all of their software (except Java) next week on Tuesday, 19 July. ®

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