For its December Patch Tuesday, Microsoft fixes 12 security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer, Windows and other products.
Microsoft issued patches for 12 security vulnerabilities Dec. 8 for its final
of 2009, including a fix for a zero-day bug plaguing
older versions of Internet Explorer.
All told Microsoft issued six security bulletins, three rated critical. The
most serious of those is the Internet
which actually covers five security issues. In addition
to having a critical rating, each of the issues addressed by the bulletin has
an exploitability index rating of 1, meaning Microsoft considers it likely to
be successfully attacked.
One of the vulnerabilities fixed in the IE bulletin is a zero-day
flaw affecting Internet Explorer 6 and 7
first reported in November when
proof-of-concept attack code surfaced.
"The highly critical vulnerability in IE6 [and] 7, with an exposure
window to exploits of over three weeks without the availability of a patch,
should put the task of getting users off IE6 [and] 7 on the top of IT admins'
New Year's resolutions for 2010," Wolfgang Kandek, CTO
of Qualys, told eWEEK. "They have to be migrated to a more modern browser,
with the most viable options being IE 8 with its well-known patching mechanism
or Firefox 3 with its more aggressive patching schedule."
Another critical bulletin addresses two
vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows
that allow remote code execution if
messages received by the Internet Authentication Service server are copied
incorrectly into memory when handling PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication
Protocol) authentication attempts. The final critical
bulletin resolves a vulnerability
in editions of Microsoft Office
Project 2000, 2002 and 2003 that could be exploited to execute code if a user
opens a malicious Project file.
"MS09-074 is the least severe of the critical updates," opined
Sheldon Malm, senior director of security strategy at Rapid7. "It is
critical on Project 2000 and important on newer versions. While this
should be prioritized and patched, I do not expect this one to see widespread
His colleague Josh Abraham, a security researcher at Rapid7, added that
MS09-071 is the month's second-most critical vulnerability.
"While CHAP (Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol) should not be
overlooked, PEAP is the bigger issue," he said. "These exposures will
be used in client-side wireless attacks and many enterprise customers are still
not taking wireless security seriously enough."
The remaining bulletins are rated important, and affect Windows and WordPad
and Office text converters. Barring an emergency out-of-band patch, the fixes
cap a busy year for Microsoft on the
According to the company, it released a total of 74
bulletins in 2009 to address 189 vulnerabilities, compared with 78 bulletins
addressing 155 vulnerabilities in 2008.