Unless you’re new to IT, you’re probably aware that today—the second Tuesday of the month—is Microsoft Patch Day.
As expected, Microsoft released nine security bulletins today, fixing 13 vulnerabilities across products like Internet Explorer (IE), Windows and its components, Sharepoint Server, and a few other Office server products. The worst two, Critical-rated updates fix security problems in IE and the Remote Desktop Client (RDC) that ships with Windows (specifically, its ActiveX control). The vulnerabilities in both these products could help remote attackers launch drive-by download attacks. If an attacker can get your IE or RDC users to visit a specially crafted web site (or a legitimate, hijacked web site), they could leverage these flaws to execute arbitrary code with those users’ privileges. You should download, test, and apply these Critical updates as soon as you can, or let Windows’ automatic updater do it for you.
As an aside, some experts had expected today’s IE update to fix some publicly disclosed vulnerabilities from the recent Pwn2Own contest at a Canadian security conference. In their IE alert, Microsoft credits two Google security researchers for discovering the flaws they fixed today. However, the Pwn2Own IE 10 flaws were disclosed by different researchers from VUPEN. So it appears the Pwn2Own IE flaws are still open issues.
Microsoft also released seven other updates, which they rate as Important. While not as serious as the ones mentioned above, they all fix some relatively risky issues too. In general, I recommend you always install all of Microsoft’s monthly patches as quickly as you can. That said, be sure to at least try and test the server updates before deploying them to your production network.