Microsoft delivers massive Patch Tuesday, fixes 34 flaws

Unlucky 13 updates plug multiple 'zero-day' holes, including one Microsoft had kept secret until now

Microsoft today delivered a record 13 security updates that patched 34 vulnerabilities in every version of Windows, including the not-yet-for-sale Windows 7, as well as in Internet Explorer (IE), Office, SQL Server and other parts of its software portfolio.

The 34 flaws were also a record number for Microsoft, the most holes patched in one sitting since Microsoft switched to a regular monthly update schedule six years ago. The closest competitor was December 2008, when the company quashed 28 bugs .

"To anyone following Apple, this isn't a big surprise," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, referring to Microsoft's operating system rival, which typically issues security updates that include scores of fixes. "But this is certainly an unprecedented month for Microsoft."

Microsoft ranked 8 of the 13 updates and 21 of the 34 vulnerabilities as "critical," the top rating in its four-step scoring system. The remainder of the bulletins were judged "important," the next threat level down, while nine of the flaws were also pegged important, and the final 4 were tagged as "moderate."

Among today's patches were several for zero-day vulnerabilities -- bugs for which exploit code had already gone public. One of the zero-day vulnerabilities was undisclosed until today.

Microsoft patched three vulnerabilities in SMB (Server Message Block) 2, a Microsoft-made network file- and print-sharing protocol that ships with Windows; two bugs in the FTP server that's included with older editions of its Internet Information Services (IIS) Web server; and two in the Windows Media Runtime. The flaws in SMB 2 and IIS had been public knowledge since early September, but the Windows Media vulnerabilities included one that Microsoft said was already in the wild, but had not leaked to the usual public sources, such as security mailing lists.

For that reason, Storms urged everyone to deploy the MS09-051 update, which patches the Windows Media bugs, as soon as possible. "At first glance, [MS09-]051 should be patched immediately," he said. "What's interesting today is that we're learning it's in the wild. More important, it can be exploited in drive-by attack situations, just be getting people to go to a [malicious] Web site."

Early last month, Microsoft revealed the SMB 2 vulnerability , but although attack code went public, security researchers have not seen any actual attacks. The flaw affects Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and preview releases of Windows 7, but not the final edition slated for retail release next week.

The FTP flaw , on the other hand, was disclosed by Microsoft Sept. 1, when the company confirmed that its security team was investigating attack code that hit the street on the last day of August.

Microsoft also fixed a slew of flaws today that go back to a programming error in one of its code "libraries," Active Template Library (ATL). The company had acknowledged the error last summer. Today's patches quashed three ATL-related bugs in Office and set "kill bits" to disable four or more Microsoft-made ActiveX controls for Windows Live Mail, the MSN Photo upload tool, and various Office document viewers used by Internet Explorer (IE) to display spreadsheets, charts and databases on the Web.

"And we have the token IE patches today, too," noted Storms, talking about MS09-054, which plugs four holes, all critical, in Microsoft's browser. Included in the four, said Storms, was one apparently accidently disclosed at the Black Hat security conference several months ago.

As part of today's record update, Microsoft also patched eight vulnerabilities in GDI+, (Graphics Device Interface), a component that debuted in Windows XP and is a core part of Windows Vista and Windows 7, as well as the server-side operating systems, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

Hackers could exploit the GDI+ bugs by sending specially-crafted image files in a variety of formats -- including BMP, PNG, TIFF and WMF -- to a user via e-mail, or by convincing users to visit sites that contain malicious image files. By triggering the vulnerabilities, attackers could then follow up with additional malware to hijack a system or steal data.

Storms, however, discounted exploits of the GDI+ vulnerabilities. The audio codec bugs [in MS09-051] will be so much easier to exploit," he reasoned.

"I would put the two items in the public domain, MS09-050 [the SMB 2 flaws] and MS09-053 [the FTP bug in IIS] at the top of the list," said Storms. "And then MS09-051 and the IE updates, the latter because those kind of client-side bugs get a lot of attention from attackers."

This month's security updates can be downloaded and installed via the Microsoft Update and Windows Update services, as well as through Windows Server Update Services.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftmicrosoft patchessecurity patchexploits and vulnerabilities

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

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?