Microsoft to issue eight patches this month

Redmond is poised to release eight security bulletins for its
April patch release, with five designated as "critical" and three
deemed "important."


Remote code execution (RCE) implications continue to be a
recurring theme for Microsoft applications and services, as all of
the critical items would plug such vulnerabilities as they relate
to Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and the Windows OS.
Meanwhile, the important fixes represent a hodgepodge of security
preparedness measures as they attempt to block spoofing, elevation
of privilege and RCE attacks.


Critical Patches Cut a Wide Swath


The first critical issue is a rare patch in that it affects
Microsoft Project, a program designed and configured to help IT and
operations project managers in a given enterprise develop plans,
assign tasks, manage budgets and track workflow. Project 2000
Service Release 1 and the 2002 Service Pack 1 version, along with
2003 SP2, are all included in the patch that is designed to keep
RCE hackers at bay.


Critical patch No. 2 is for Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2, XP
Professional x64 edition and its SP2 update. It also deals with any
potential RCE problems in all versions of Windows Server 2003 and
Windows Vista.


The third critical item is one that will, for the second time
since February's release, raise the eyebrows of Web developers. It
pertains to RCE exploits that would affect Visual Basic or VBScript
and JScript, which are languages used to write browser functions
embedded in or included in hypertext markup language (HTML) pages.
A cursory inspection of the third bulletin reveals a smattering of
fixes affecting VBScript 5.1 and 5.6, as well as JScript 5.1 and
5.6. Related OS versions under this patch umbrella are Windows 2000
SP4, XP SP2 and XP Professional SP2, and all Windows Server 2003
versions. VBScript and JScript are used mainly by Web developers
working with IE.


And, once again, IE -- the near-ubiquitous Web browser bundled
with Windows -- is rated critical in the fourth patch. The upcoming
fix would plug up the application, thereby preventing any
incursions of RCE-based bugs in IE 5.01 SP4 and IE 6 SP1. The fix
also affects XP SP2 Standard and Professional editions, all Windows
Server 2003 versions, both Vista SP1 editions (with an accompanying
"important" footnote, in this case), and, lastly, all versions of
Windows Server 2008, albeit with a "low" priority proviso.


The IE fixes continue with the last critical patch in the list.
RCE implications are prevalent with IE 6 and 7 sitting on Windows
2000 SP4, both XP SP2 releases, both Vista SP1 releases and all
versions of Windows Server 2008.


Important Patches


The sixth patch kicks off the important items. The patch would
combat spoofing, or what is known in the hacking community as a
"masquerade ball," an entry through a vector point after which an
attacker or programmed bug passes itself off as legitimate to gain
entry into a workstation or network. This bulletin touches Windows
2000 SP4, XP and XP Professional SP2 releases, and all Windows
Server 2003 releases.


Patch No. 7 is designed to mitigate an elevation-of-privilege
risk, where a hacker might circumvent access controls and upgrade
his user profile to gain carte blanche access as an all-object
administrator or super-user. The fix affects all the same OS
versions as the sixth patch, except it also touches all three
Windows Server 2008 releases.


Any IT pro or software developer or user who designs flowcharts,
works up schematic presentations or uses the ConceptDraw 7 program
on the diagramming application Microsoft Visio may be interested in
the third and final important patch, which affects XP Office 2003
and 2007 Office System. The specific applications versions are
Visio 2002 SP3, 2003 SP2 and SP3, and Visio 2007 and 2007 SP1.


Of the eight total patches, six items will require restarts.


Reiterating a previously announced push of IE 7 for Windows
Update, Redmond is shaking things up with a change in content presentation for the way it describes its
releases for Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services. It
is also touting a new security content release for the April 8
Patch Tuesday. This is slated to include a Windows Malicious
Software Removal Tool upgrade and a Malicious Software Removal Tool
upgrade specifically for IE.


As with each rollout, the advance notice isn't the final
product; the nature, number and design of all the patches won't be
known officially until Tuesday. However, it will be interesting to
see how IT pros adapt to the content and presentation changes and
how these will affect lead time in future patch management
initiatives.



This story was originally published April 3 at RedmondMag.com, an affiliate Web site of GCN.com.

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