Microsoft to include risk assessments as part of patch cycle

Originally posted Aug. 5 at 3:53 p.m. and updated Aug. 6 at 4:20
p.m.


Microsoft is initiating a new security notification approach,
the company announced on Tuesday at the Black Hat
security conference. Beginning with its October patch release
rollout cycle, the software giant will provide an assessment of
risk for the vulnerabilities outlined in each security bulletin.
The aim is to help administrators prioritize patch
installation.


The approach is part of the company's new Microsoft Active Protections Program.
Security pros at Redmond claim the move will give security software
providers and enterprise security administrators a chance to
preemptively assess the "vulnerabilities addressed by Microsoft
security updates." It will help eliminate downtime and get serious
vulnerabilities patched immediately.


There will be a kind of glossary of risk to consider in what
Redmond is calling an "exploitability index." The index will be
pulled together periodically based on customer comments and
feedback about functional exploits and their associated
vulnerabilities.


"The introduction of these new programs helps address evolving
online threats and provides more practical guidance to assess and
manage risk," said Andrew Cushman, Microsoft's director of security
response and outreach, in a prepared statement.


Microsoft also wants to close the gap between patch releases and
the release of exploits by hackers. The company has battled what IT
pros jokingly call the "Patch Tuesday-Exploit Wednesday" theory of
succession. Hackers study the vulnerabilities and the related
patches. They then release bugs to get around them -- in as much as
a day or as little as a few hours.


As security threats get more nuanced, Microsoft will be looking
to combine its resources with other firms, partners and security
entities of all kinds, according to George Stathakopoulos,
Microsoft's general manager of security engineering and
communications. In a speech during the conference this week, he
said that Microsoft aimed to provide "maximum security protections
to worldwide Internet users."



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