Microsoft debugs Explorer, Windows with Patch Tuesday updates

Critical IE patches address vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution

Another month of security updates from Microsoft means, once again, another round of fixes for the company's Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser, as well as a set of updates for the Windows operating system, for both the server and desktop editions.

Overall, Microsoft has issued six bulletins in July's "Patch Tuesday" collection of software fixes. Microsoft issues these collections on the second Tuesday of each month, hence the name "Patch Tuesday."

Two of the patches are marked as critical, meaning they address defects in Microsoft's software that could be readily exploited by malicious attackers to compromise systems. One of the critical bulletins is for IE, and the other one is for Windows.

Three of the remaining bulletins are denoted as "important" by Microsoft and one as "moderate." These bulletins cover Windows and the messaging component of Windows Server.

A single bulletin may cover multiple patches for a single piece of software, such as Microsoft Windows.

Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer for security firm Qualys, advised administrators to look at the IE patches first. IE update MS-14-037 addresses one publicly disclosed vulnerability and 23 privately reported vulnerabilities. The critical patches in this set all address vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution, which would allow an attacker to gain privileges on a machine by tricking a user to view a specially crafted Web page using the browser.

The critical Windows update MS14-038 covers a remote execution vulnerability that originates in a faulty way for how Windows opens files in the Windows Journal file format. Windows Journal is Microsoft's software for capturing handwritten notes on a computer. It can be used not only for touch-enabled devices, but also for other non-touch Windows computers to read files in that format.

If an organization does not use the Journal format, it may be a good idea to turn off the capability altogether in its Windows machines, so as to reduce the "attack surface" of these computers, Kandek said. In general, it is a good idea to turn off any unneeded services in computers if an administrator has the time to do this, he said.

While administrators are in the mode of testing and applying software patches, they should also take a close look at the critical patches Adobe has issued Tuesday for its Flash player.

Oracle shops should also prepare for Oracle's quarterly round of patches, due to be issued Thursday.

IE tends to get the most of the fixes in Patch Tuesday not necessarily because it is inherently more buggy than other Microsoft software, but because it is widely used software that could provide an entry point for outsiders to break into the computers that run the browser. As a result, it is under such scrutiny by both malicious attackers and security researchers.

IE is not necessarily any more buggy than other popular browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox. Both Google and Mozilla have automatic updates for their browsers, so a vulnerability can get addressed as soon as the developers create a patch to fix the problem, noted Amol Sarwate, the director of Qualys' Vulnerability Labs. As a result, such bugs and their attendant fixes are rarely called out in the press, unless they are critical in nature.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftsecuritypatch managementExploits / vulnerabilities

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?