November 14, 2012, 2:41 PM — Today is the eleventh Patch Tuesday of 2012, but the first since the official launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT. There are six new security bulletins--a couple of which are particularly urgent, especially for anyone planning to do any online shopping this holiday season.
There are four security bulletins rated as Critical, one Important, and one Moderate. The Critical security bulletins address issues with Internet Explorer, Windows kernel-mode drivers, the .NET framework, and flaws in Windows shell code that can allow remote exploits.
The most crucial of the six security bulletins is the cumulative update for Internet Explorer--MS12-071. Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, declares, "Topping our 'patch immediately' list this month is the drive-by exploit affecting Internet Explorer 9. It's fairly obvious that Microsoft patched this bug in IE10 before its release; otherwise, we would have a bulletin affecting both IE9 and IE10.
Black Friday--the official kick off of the holiday shopping season--and it's online twin Cyber Monday are just around the corner. Millions of holiday shoppers will turn to the Internet to research gifts, and make holiday purchases. The holidays are always a time for heightened online security, so a flaw in Internet Explorer that can result in drive-by downloads is even more serious than usual.
Tyler Reguly, technical manager of security research and development for nCircle, concurs. "To reiterate what will be said hundreds of times today: patch IE first. It's the most critical bulletin."
With the proverbial ink still drying on the press related to the Windows 8 launch, November's Patch Tuesday includes three security bulletins that apply to the new flagship operating system. MS12-072, MS12-074, and MS12-075 all affect both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8, as well as Windows Server 2012. MS12-074 and MS12-075 also impact Windows RT--the version of Windows developed for ARM-based hardware like the Microsoft Surface RT tablet.
The fact that the brand new OS is already being patched might seem shocking to some, but it shouldn't. Storms explains, "Much of the core operating system is reused from version to version, even in new releases, and all software has bugs. These factors, combined with security researchers that love to find and report bugs in the latest software version, are reasons for the number of bulletins for Windows 8. This should surprise no one."