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Tuesday Patch Cycles To Include Risk Assessments

Microsoft is initiating a new security notification approach, the company announced on Tuesday at the Black Hat security conference.

Microsoft is initiating a new security notification approach, the company announced on Tuesday at the Black Hat security conference. Beginning with its October patch release rollout cycle, the software giant will provide an assessment of risk for the vulnerabilities outlined in each security bulletin. The aim is to help administrators prioritize patch installation.

The approach is part of the company's new Microsoft Active Protections Program. Security pros at Redmond claim the move will give security software providers and enterprise security administrators a chance to preemptively assess the "vulnerabilities addressed by Microsoft security updates." It will help eliminate downtime and get serious vulnerabilities patched immediately.

There will be a kind of glossary of risk to consider in what Redmond is calling an "exploitability index." The index will be pulled together periodically based on customer comments and feedback about functional exploits and their associated vulnerabilities.

"The introduction of these new programs helps address evolving online threats and provides more practical guidance to assess and manage risk," said Andrew Cushman, Microsoft's director of security response and outreach, in a prepared statement.

Microsoft also wants to close the gap between patch releases and the release of exploits by hackers. The company has battled what IT pros jokingly call the "Patch Tuesday-Exploit Wednesday" theory of succession. Hackers study the vulnerabilities and the related patches. They then release bugs to get around them -- in as much as a day or as little as a few hours.

As security threats get more nuanced, Microsoft will be looking to combine its resources with other firms, partners and security entities of all kinds, according to George Stathakopoulos, Microsoft's general manager of security engineering and communications. In a speech during the conference this week, he said that Microsoft aimed to provide "maximum security protections to worldwide Internet users."

Stathakopoulos' speech signaled Redmond's theme of supporting more collaborative efforts on software security.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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