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Microsoft Readies 5 'Critical' Updates for December

Microsoft will be finishing off 2012 with a monthly security update that addresses 11 vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Microsoft Exchange Server, Office and Windows.

This months patch will feature five bulletins rated "critical" (highest severity warning) and two rated "important," (second-highest severity warning) according to Microsoft's Security Bulletin Advance Notification. Six of the seven items in Microsoft's patch rollout will address remote code execution (RCE) flaws.

Marcus Carey, security researcher at Rapid7, advises that IT prioritizes bulletin 1, a fix for Internet Explorer, first.

"Since it is a browser vulnerability this should be the first of the patch triage list, as a victim could be compromised by visiting a malicious site via drive-by attack," said Carey in an e-mailed statement. "With this update, Microsoft will also harden IE 6, IE 7 and IE 8, even though they aren't vulnerable to these vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities only exist in IE 9 and IE 10."

The remaining four critical items will focus on multiple flaws in Windows, Office and Microsoft Server Software. While Windows and Microsoft Server Software are no strangers to receiving critical updates, Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of security firm Qualys, Inc., points out that Office receiving a critical update is somewhat of a rare occurrence.

"Usually Microsoft downgrades even Remote Code Execution Office vulnerabilities to 'Important,' because a user interaction (e.g., opening a malicious file) is required. In this case we assume the 'critical' rating comes from Outlook, which can be configured to use Word to visualize documents in its preview pan," said Kandek in a blog post. "This is an automatic mechanism that does not require user interaction. In any case, this is will be an important bulletin to watch out for."

Look for more information on the specific nature of the fixes to arrive with Microsoft's patch release on Tuesday morning.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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