Two critical Windows fixes coming Tuesday
Microsoft expects to deliver just two critical fixes in its May security update, arriving this Tuesday.
The advance notification, released today by Microsoft, describes both fixes as addressing remote code execution (RCE) exploits in Microsoft's software. One will be a Windows patch, while the other addresses Microsoft Office applications.
The first security bulletin, the operating system patch, affects every supported Windows OS but is only deemed "critical" for Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows Server 2003 and 2008.
This security bulletin is labeled "important" for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. However, Microsoft says these particular OS versions "are not vulnerable when in their default configurations."
The second security bulletin touches Office XP, Office 2003 and 2007 Microsoft Office System. Specifically, the fix is designed to stave off an RCE exploit in Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications SDK.
Both items may require a system restart after applying the patch.
As the May patch cycle nears, commentators have noticed the absence of a patch for a recently described vulnerability in SharePoint. Microsoft issued a security advisory (983438) late last month suggesting that attackers might achieve elevation-of-privilege status on systems running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
At this point, Microsoft is just recommending that IT pros use workaround solutions.
"Our teams are still working on an update for that issue," said Microsoft Security Response Center spokesman Jerry Bryant, in a released statement. "In the meantime, we recommend customers review the advisory and apply the workarounds."
While it appears that the SharePoint fix will not be in the May security update, it might be pushed forward by Microsoft, according to Paul Henry, a security and forensic analyst at Lumension.
"It seems likely that we can instead expect an out-of-band patch this month for Sharepoint, given the critical nature of the cross-site scripting vulnerability which threatens sensitive corporate information housed on the enterprise content management system," Henry said.
Meanwhile, as usual, Microsoft is also releasing information on nonsecurity releases on Windows Update, Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services via this Knowledge Base article.
Microsoft also repeated its warning in the May advance notification that support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP2 will end after July 13, 2010.
Jabulani Leffall is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.