Microsoft Patch Tuesday: Windows 8, Internet Explorer, Office, Visual Studio, Lync are all vulnerable

Six out of 7 Microsoft patches marked critical for July’s Patch Tuesday

“To say that all Microsoft products are affected and everything is affected critically is not an overstatement,” says Paul Henry a security and forensic analyst for Lumension. “It’s difficult to prioritize one or two because all the bulletins likely need your attention.”

Microsoft is plugging a host of security holes found not

only in its latest operating system but also in many of its most popular

applications including Office, Internet Explorer and Lync.

This month’s Patch Tuesday consists of seven bulletins, six

of them critical, that, if exploited, can give attackers power to execute code

on victim machines and control them remotely.

[THREAT: Browsers

pose the greatest threat to enterprise, Microsoft reports

SECURITY: Microsoft]

commits to secure coding standard

“To say that all Microsoft products are affected and

everything is affected critically is not an overstatement,” says Paul Henry a

security and forensic analyst for Lumension. “It’s difficult to prioritize one

or two because all the bulletins likely need your attention.”

One patch fixes a Windows font-parsing problem that uses

maliciously crafted files to be mishandled and grant remote execution of code,

says Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys. The most likely way of being attacked is

by browsing a malicious Web page or opening an infected document, he says.

 The same problem crops up in Silverlight and Lync and are

addressed by separate patches.

Four of the bulletins address vulnerabilities found in most

versions of Windows including Windows 8 and its ARM-based variant Windows RT,

as well as the latest version of Windows Server. “As I’ve said many times in

the past, it’s never a good thing to see the current code base impacted, as

that’s supposed to be the most secure version available,” Henry says.

The most dangerous is a vulnerability found by Tavis Ormandy,any active attacks with this

a Google researcher, who revealed it in March without giving Microsoft much

chance to fix it first. That resulted in limited active attacks against the

flaw, says Henry. “Though it’s impossible to know for sure, it is my contention

that we would not being seeing

vulnerability had principles of responsible disclosure been followed,” he says.

The same patch addresses a separate vulnerability that is not under active

attack.

This month’s bulletins include one to fix 17 flaws in

Internet Explorer, something that has become a standard issue over the past few

months. The best advice: upgrade to the latest version of the browser, “that’s

typically the most secure version,” Henry says.

Kandek says several of the vulnerabilities have an exploitation

index of 1, meaning developing exploits is doable by coordinated efforts of

attackers.

“This continues the trend we’ve seen in recent Patch

Tuesdays with Internet Explorer receiving fixes for lots of memory corruption

vulnerabilities,” says BeyondTrust CTO Marc Maiffret. “These vulnerabilities

will be used in drive-by attacks where attackers set up malicious web pages and

use social engineering tactics to draw users to the malicious pages.”

This month represents an uptick in the number of critical

vulnerabilities addressed. More could come up later this year as Microsoft’s

new bug bounty program kicks in. Microsoft is offering up to $100,000 for

vulnerabilities discovered by researchers and turned over to the company. The

goal is to fix more holes before attackers write exploits for them.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communicationsMostly Microsoft blog.tgreene@nww.com and@Tim_Greene.

for Network World and writes the 

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