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Microsoft Battles Worms with Critical Windows Patch

Microsoft Battles Worms with Critical Windows Patch
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Small businesses and campus locations where Windows computers are configured in workgroups are particularly vulnerable to some of the security holes addressed by Microsoft. Those with Windows XP on their network should also install the patches ASAP to avoid serious harm, since the malware is network aware with no authentication required.
 


IT admins take note: Microsoft has issued nine security bulletins as part of August's Patch Tuesday. Five are rated critical and four rated important. Altogether, the bulletins address 26 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, Exchange Server, SQL Server, Server Software, Developer Tools, and Office.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle, told us another MSCOMCTL-related bug is at the top of the Microsoft list. Microsoft previously patched the Windows Common Control bug with bulletin MS12-027 in April.

That, Storms said, made everyone sit up and take notice because it affects a huge number of applications including some very serious back office core systems, like SQL servers and commerce servers.

"There is some good news this month -- that the attack vector associated with the MSCOMCTL patch is an RTF file -- and the victim has to explicitly open the file to allow the exploit," Storms said. "If you can't get this patch rolled out or mitigation applied quickly, you should remind users about the dangers of opening attachments from unknown persons."

Backlog of IE Patches

Noteworthy is the fact that August marks the third month in a row with a new Internet Explorer patch. That demonstrates how Microsoft is leveraging its recently announced initiative to release IE patches more frequently. Storms said this probably means there are a lot more IE patches in the future since it's a good bet Microsoft will be tackling their IE backlog post haste.

"As expected, MS is patching the zero-day bug called 'Oracle Outside in Exchange' bug. This vulnerability really never went anywhere in the exploit community. We have so far seen very little uptake on actively exploiting the bug," Storms explained.

Meanwhile, MS12-054 contains a sprint spooler bug with a potentially wormable condition. Storms said keen-eyed attackers are going need to focus carefully on the vulnerability to uncover all of its potential.

"This is something that predominately affects small business and campus locations where Windows computers are configured in workgroups," Storms said. "If this describes your business, deploy this patch as soon as you can."

Potentially Wormable

MS12-053, an RDP bug only affecting XP, another bug with a potentially wormable condition, ranks lower in the MS deployment priority. Storms warned that this one has the potential for serious impact because it is network aware and no authentication is required. If you have XP on your network, he suggested getting the mitigations for this one installed ASAP.

Tyler Reguly, director of IT security research and development at nCircle, noted that August's Patch Tuesday saw more of the usual patches for Office, Win32K.sys and Internet Explorer. He told us most enterprise teams should be pros by now when it comes to testing and deploying these patches.

"Microsoft listed MS12-060 as the most critical issue this month. They mention it is seeing limited targeted attacks and it patches different components of a control patched only a few months ago," Reguly said. "Given the attack vectors, I'd say that Microsoft has definitely ordered things properly this month."
 

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