Microsoft plugged a number of security holes today impacting Windows, Internet Explorer and other products as part of its monthly security update.
Microsoft released patches for 16 security
today, including a bug affecting Microsoft XML Core
Services that is being exploited in the wild.
The patches are spread out across nine
bulletins, three of which are rated critical. Among those critical
vulnerabilities is a remote-code-execution issue impacting XML Core Services
3.0, 4.0 and 6.0 on all supported versions of Windows that could be exploited
via drive-by attacks.
The most important patch this month is
undoubtedly the XML core services bug," said Andrew Storms, director of
security operations at nCircle. "Microsoft issued an advisory for this bug
in early June and we've already seen the exploit in a number of exploit
toolkits and attacks have been reported in the wild."
"If you are paying close attention,
you'll notice that the XML version 5 patch for the bug isn't shipping
today," he added. "The fix for this version is probably not ready
yet, so Microsoft decided to deliver the other patches. So far, all the attacks
in the wild utilize XML version 3, so this release, even though not totally
complete, seems like a no-brainer."
The update also included a critical patch for
Internet Explorer 9, the latest version of Microsoft's popular browser. The IE9
bulletin, MS12-044, swats two security bugs that can be exploited to remotely
execute code. Neither issue is known to be getting targeted in the wild,
"The vulnerabilities could allow remote-code
execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet
Explorer," according to Microsoft's advisory. "An attacker who
successfully exploited any of these vulnerabilities could gain the same user
rights as the current user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer
user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with
administrative user rights."
"Apply this patch as quickly as possible
if you run IE9. The exploitability index is 1, meaning that Microsoft believes
that it is easy for attackers to reverse-engineer the patch and develop an
, chief technology officer of Qualys. "What makes
MS12-044 more interesting is that it's the product of an accelerated update
cycle that Microsoft has been working on. In the past, Internet Explorer was updated
only every two monthsthat was how long it took to get through all the
compatibility testing required for a stable release. Now, Microsoft has
streamlined this process to reduce the time needed by 50 percent."
The final critical bulletin, MS12-045,
addresses a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that, like the other critical
bugs, can be exploited to remotely execute code. According to Microsoft, the
vulnerability exists in the way that Microsoft Data Access Components accesses
an object in memory that has been improperly initialized.
The remaining bulletins for this month
impact Microsoft Office, Windows, Microsoft Server Software and Microsoft
Developer Tools. Microsoft classified each of those six bulletins as
In addition to the patches, Microsoft
, which allows system administrators to disable the Windows
Sidebar and Gadgets on supported versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 with
one Fix-it click.
"As many of you are aware, Windows 8
will deprecate the Sidebar and Gadgets, and Gadget developers are already shifting
their efforts to the online Windows Store," blogged Yunsun Wee of
Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group. "Meanwhile, weve discovered that
some Vista and Win7 gadgets dont adhere to secure-coding practices and should
be regarded as causing risk to the systems on which theyre run."
The company also issued Security
, which places certain digital certificates in the
Untrusted Certificate Store.
"Though we have no indication that
those had been compromised or misused in any fashion, as a precautionary
measure weve revoked them," Wee blogged. "A subset of those was in
addition found to have code signing permissions, which has earned them a place
in the Untrusted Certificate Store."