Security Experts:

Microsoft Patches Critical Flaws in Windows, Browsers

Microsoft’s February 2016 Patch Tuesday updates include a total of 13 bulletins designed to address dozens of vulnerabilities in the company’s products.

It’s worth pointing out that one of the bulletins, MS16-022, fixes the 22 Flash Player flaws resolved by Adobe on Tuesday. The Microsoft bulletin patches the Flash libraries used in Internet Explorer 10 and 11, and Edge.

“One of the best changes this month is that Adobe Flash Player embedded within Microsoft IE and Edge has finally received its own bulletin. Previously, Microsoft updated the same KB on a month by month basis with no defining elements. This is a welcome change and hopefully it bodes well for other areas where Microsoft continues to do this,” Tripwire’s Tyler Reguly told SecurityWeek.

The list of bulletins rated critical includes MS16-009 and MS16-011, which contain cumulative security updates for Internet Explorer, respectively Edge. The Internet Explorer advisory describes 13 flaws, four of which also affect Edge. There are only two vulnerabilities that are specific to Edge.

Another critical bulletin is MS16-015, which patches Microsoft Office security holes that can be exploited to execute arbitrary code in the context of the targeted user by getting them to open a specially crafted Office file. If the victim is an administrator, an attacker could take control of the vulnerable system.

MS16-013 patches a critical memory corruption vulnerability in Windows Journal. An attacker who can convince a user to open a specially crafted Journal file can execute arbitrary code on the targeted system with the victim’s privileges.

“Today marks the twelfth RCE bug Microsoft is patching in Windows Journal in just 10 months. This is particularly interesting because before 2015, Windows Journal vulnerabilities were basically unheard of,” Tripwire researcher Craig Young said via email. “While the increased scrutiny of Windows Journal may be an indication of Microsoft’s successes in the tablet space, it is important to remember that the flaw is not limited to tablets. In fact every piece of software installed on a computer adds to the potential attack surface even if that software is not frequently used.”

A critical update for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 10 resolves a remote code execution vulnerability affecting the PDF Library used in these versions of the operating system.

An “important” Windows bulletin is MS16-014, which patches flaws that can be exploited for remote code execution, denial-of-service (DoS), and Kerberos bypass attacks. The other bulletins rated “important” patch various types of security bugs in Windows and the .NET Framework.

While there is no indication that any of the vulnerabilities patched this month have been exploited in the wild, Microsoft’s advisories state that exploits for a Windows privilege escalation flaw (CVE-2016-0040) and a SharePoint XSS bug (CVE-2016-0039) have been publicly disclosed.

Adobe released updates on Tuesday to address tens of vulnerabilities in Flash Player, Photoshop, Bridge, Connect and Experience Manager.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.