Microsoft, Adobe to Release First Security Patches of the New Year

Microsoft rated two of its January bulletins critical. Adobe is evaluating reports of a security flaw in its Cold Fusion Web dev tool, and plans to release fixes Jan. 8 for Reader and Acrobat.

Microsoft is preparing seven security bulletins to start the new year while Adobe is preparing to fix the latest flaws in Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

Of the seven Microsoft Patch Tuesday security bulletins scheduled to come next week, just two are considered "critical," Microsoft's most serious rating for security issues. The other five are rated "important." The two critical bulletins cover issues affecting Microsoft Windows, Office, Microsoft Server Software and Microsoft Developer Tools.

Perhaps not surprisingly, several security researchers suggested that the two critical bulletins get the most attention from IT administrators. The first of these affects Microsoft Windows Server platforms and should be a top priority because the bug could potentially be exploited in malware. Since Server Core is affected, it could apply to a common service, said Ross Barrett, Rapid7's senior manager of security engineering.

"The other critical [one] is bulletin 2, which impacts a dog's breakfast of Microsoft operating systems and applications [including Windows 8, RT and Server 2012]; this is likely another broad-reaching library bug," he said. "One thing to watch out for in this type of vulnerability is applying all the patches that apply to a system; e.g., it affects, Groove, Office, SharePoint, the OS and other components. Administrators will have to patch for each affected component."

Bulletin two may be the most significant bulletin, as it affects both Windows 8 and Windows RT as well as many of the other previous systems, said Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension.

"It's always scary when the current-generation code is impacted, and this bulletin touches on both legacy and current code," he said. "You may recall hearing about issues with an Nvidia display driver about a week ago, which could clearly be exploited to attack RT. It's very possible that this bulletin may be related to that Nvidia driver issue. It could also be related to the browser issue we heard about over the weekend."

On Dec. 29, Microsoft issued an advisory about an Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability that attackers were targeting. On Dec. 31, the company issued a Fix It tool to provide a stop-gap solution for users until a patch was developed.

All together, the seven bulletins will address a total of 12 vulnerabilities.

Also scheduled to come next week are fixes for critical vulnerabilities affecting Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. According to Adobe Systems, the security updates will address issues in Adobe Reader and Acrobat XI (11.0.0) as well as earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh. The update will also affect Adobe Reader 9.5.1 and earlier 9.x versions for Linux.

Though Adobe offered no further details of the bugs, it stated that none of the vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild.

The same could not be said, however, of vulnerabilities reported to the company to be affecting ColdFusion 10, 9.0.2, 9.0.1 and 9.0 for Windows, UNIX and Macs, which are being exploited by attackers.

"We are currently evaluating the reports and plan to issue a security advisory as soon as we have determined mitigation guidance for ColdFusion customers and a timeline for a fix," Adobe said in a statement.

Both the Microsoft and Adobe updates are slated to be released Jan. 8.