Microsoft pencils in two patches for next week

Updates will fix flaws in Windows

Microsoft will ease into the patch year by issuing just two security updates next week, the company said Thursday.

The updates will fix flaws in Windows, Microsoft said in the prepatch notice. One will be rated "critical," the company's most serious ranking, while the other will be tagged as "important," the next-lower rating.

Tuesday's critical update is expected to patch a remote code execution vulnerability found in all currently supported versions of Windows, ranging from Windows 2000 SP4 to Windows Vista. The bug is especially threatening to users of Windows XP and Vista, according to Microsoft. The company ranked the flaw critical to those operating systems, but important to Windows Server 2003 and "moderate" to Windows 2000.

Although Microsoft provides only bare-bones information in its prepatch notification, this update may be a fix for the Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) bug that the company's security team acknowledged a month ago, but didn't fix in time to make the Dec. 11 batch of updates. The WPAD vulnerability -- actually a flaw in how Windows PCs look up DNS information -- was originally patched in 1999, but resurfaced recently when a researcher pointed out that it had crept back into later versions of Windows.

Ryan Poppa, lead research engineer at nCircle Inc., however, had a different idea. "I'm leaning toward something else," said Poppa, "because WPAD doesn't seem to fit with the criticality of this."

Poppa based his speculation on how Microsoft rated the vulnerability for the different versions of Windows. "It mostly affects the workstations, and not servers," he said, referring to the important rating for Windows Server 2003 and the critical label for XP and Vista. "It might be [a fix for] a service that's not turned on by default on Windows 2003, but is on XP and Vista. It could be something like Remote Desktop, for example."

The second update scheduled for next week affects all versions of Windows except Vista. Because Microsoft classified it as a "local elevation of privilege" -- which typically means that an attack requires local access -- it ranked the vulnerability as important across the board.

Microsoft also plans to release five nonsecurity, high-priority updates via Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and two nonsecurity, high-priority updates for Windows on Windows Update and WSUS. Microsoft Update downloads and installs not only fixes for Windows, but also updates for Office and several other Microsoft products.

The two updates and their associated explanatory bulletins will go live Tuesday around 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?