Preview: Microsoft Patch Tuesday for February

A look at what to expect from Microsoft for Patch Tuesday, and some expert commentary on which patches are most critical.

In January, Microsoft only released two security bulletins, but even at the time it was common knowledge that a number of known vulnerabilities were not yet addressed. In February, Microsoft is apparently catching up on patches for outstanding zero-day threats and then some--with a total of 12 new security bulletins.

Based on the Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notice, three of the security bulletins will be rated as Critical, while the remaining nine are ranked as Important. Eleven of the twelve impact the Windows operating system--one of which shares impact with Internet Explorer, and the twelfth deals with a flaw in Microsoft Office. Nine require a system restart, and the other three "may" require a restart, so it's probably best to just plan on rebooting once the patches are applied.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, e-mailed his insights on the upcoming onslaught of Microsoft bulletins. "Microsoft started this year in a bad spot--they are still picking up the pieces from a number of public zero-day bugs. They will be fixing a critical Internet Explorer zero-day next week that dates back to December. We also expect them to address the IIS denial of service bug and a critical issue in the graphic rendering engine; both of these are zero-day bugs."

Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek also shares some commentary regarding patches for the zero-day vulnerabilities on his blog. "Three of the bulletins are critical and include updates to address the recently disclosed flaws in Internet Explorer "css.css"--Microsoft Security Advisory 2488013, and Windows "thumbnail preview"--Microsoft Security Advisory 2490606. These vulnerabilities have seen limited exploits in the wild, so applying the update is highly recommended."

Kandek adds, "The recent MHTML issue in Windows/Internet Explorer will not be addressed in this update. The workaround suggested by Microsoft in Advisory 2501696 continues to be the recommended way of mitigating this attack vector."

Check back next Tuesday for a more detailed analysis of the security bulletins. You can also you're your calendar for 11am Pacific time on Wednesday, February 9. Microsoft will host a webcast to address customer questions on these bulletins at that time. You can click here to register online for the Microsoft webcast.

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