Microsoft on Tuesday issued nine security bulletins -- including two rated critical. The others were rated important on Redmond's security scale. Still, despite nine patches, security analysts are saying April's Patch Tuesday is not as taxing as other problems IT admins are facing this week.
Indeed, Paul Henry, a security and forensic analyst at Lumension, told us most of the impact is on the legacy code base rather than the current code that has been impacted more than usual over the last few months.
"If your system is running the latest and greatest versions of software -- as you should always do, since newest is usually the most secure -- then you should be minimally impacted this month," Henry said. "Microsoft is not your biggest issue this month, despite nine patches."
No Mad Dog Rush
Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle, told us April's Patch Tuesday is practically boring -- and that's a good thing for IT security teams because there won't be a mad dog rush to get this month's patches deployed. Even the IE bulletin, what Storms deems the usual candidate for the "patch immediately award," only has an exploit index rating of two. That rating indicates that Microsoft believes building a successful attack in the next 30 days will be difficult.
"The second critical bug, a vulnerability in the ActiveX controls for the remote desktop client, presents a more interesting attack scenario. Fortunately, there are enough mitigating circumstances to make it less problematic for most businesses," Storms said.
"The bug does not affect the latest RDP client, version 8, which dramatically reduces the affected number of machines. Microsoft has released mitigation steps to disable the affected ActiveX control. Also, if your users browse with default IE settings, they will be presented the 'gold bar' warning providing them with an opportunity to opt out of an attack."
Tyler Reguly, technical manager of security research and development at nCircle, told us the most notable items are the first appearances of both SharePoint Server 2013 and Windows Defender for Windows 8 in bulletins.
"The most interesting bulletin this month may be MS13-029, Remote Desktop Client ActiveX," he confirmed. "If a lot of people have taken to clicking 'Always trust content from Microsoft' when allowing the ActiveX Control to run, it may end up taking the top priority spot from IE."
Prepare for Attacks
But, as Henry noted, Microsoft is not the IT admin's biggest problem in April. And, for once, Java is not a new problem this month. However, he said, there are issues beyond these two brands to consider. One that concerns Henry is the ongoing issue with Apache, known as Darkleech.
"The Apache server software is apparently being used to facilitate drive-by malware attacks. The attack is very dynamic, randomly serving malicious links to select users, but not others," Henry said. "The inconsistency is making it very difficult for the security community to detect, let alone resolve."
Henry called it an "incredibly stealthy piece of malware" and said despite the fact that attacks date all the way back to August, there is still no concrete information about mitigation. He expects to hear a lot more about Darkleech over the next few months and warns to look out for attacks.
"I'm also hearing a lot about DDoS again this month, thanks to the attack on Spamhaus, the largest attack in history, which is being credited with attempting to 'break the Internet'," Henry said. "Though cyber security attacks are occasionally blown out of proportion, in this case that's exactly what the attack tried to do. It used misconfigured DNS servers to generate and amplify traffic for the attack."