Security Experts:

Microsoft to Close Year With 7 Security Bulletins for Patch Tuesday

Microsoft is planning to release seven security bulletins to close out the year.

Five of the bulletins are rated 'Critical', while the other two are classified as 'Important.' All totaled, the bulletins address 11 vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft Word, Windows, Office, Windows Server and Internet Explorer (IE). The two 'Important' bulletins both address issues in Windows.

"Christmas came early from Microsoft, with five bulletins marked as remote code execution that between them cover every OS they have released since Windows XP," said Alex Horan, senior product manager, CORE Security.

Among the more serious bulletins is one affecting Exchange 2007 SP3 and Exchange 2010 SP1 and SP2 that deals with an issue that can be exploited to remotely execute code.

"You don’t just randomly turn off email serves without generating howls of protest from your company to fix this one," Horan said. "This is my number one vulnerability in the bunch."

According to Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, the most critical bulletin is the one affecting Internet Explorer, as it impacts IE9 and IE10. Next in priority should be Bulletin 3, which is a remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft Word.

"While typical Word vulnerabilities are ranked important, this is ranked critical," he said. "Similar to a bulletin issued a few months ago, there’s an issue with RTF formatted data that can be parsed in the Outlook Preview Pane, executing the vulnerability. Because of that parsing, this will be very important to apply quickly."

Comparing this year to 2011, Henry noted that Microsoft had 100 security bulletins last year. In 2012, the number of bulletins was reduced by close to 20 percent for a total of 83 – barring any changes between now and the end of the year.

"It’s great to see that Microsoft’s Secure Coding Initiative is paying off, reducing the number of vulnerabilities in their software, resulting in an easier time for IT at Patch Tuesday time," Henry said.

Patch Tuesday is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 11.

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