On Tuesday Microsoft issued software updates to fix almost five dozen security problems in Windows and software designed to run on top of it. By most accounts, it’s a relatively light patch batch this month. Here’s a look at the highlights.
Happily, only about 15 percent of the bugs patched this week earned Microsoft’s most dire “critical” rating. Microsoft labels flaws critical when they could be exploited by miscreants or malware to seize control over a vulnerable system without any help from the user.
Also, Adobe has kindly granted us another month’s respite from patching security holes in its Flash Player browser plugin.
Included in this month’s roundup is something Microsoft actually first started shipping in the third week of September, when it released an emergency update to fix a critical Internet Explorer zero-day flaw (CVE-2019-1367) that was being exploited in the wild.
That out-of-band security update for IE caused printer errors for many Microsoft users whose computers applied the emergency update early on, according to Windows update expert Woody Leonhard. Apparently, the fix available through this month’s roundup addresses those issues.
Security firm Ivanti notes that the patch for the IE zero day flaw was released prior to today for Windows 10 through cumulative updates, but that an IE rollup for any pre-Windows 10 systems needs to be manually downloaded and installed.
Once again, Microsoft is fixing dangerous bugs in its Remote Desktop Client, the Windows feature that lets a user interact with a remote desktop as if they were sitting in front of the other PC. On the bright side, this critical bug can only be exploited by tricking a user into connecting to a malicious Remote Desktop server — not exactly the most likely attack scenario.
Other notable vulnerabilities addressed this month include a pair of critical security holes in Microsoft Excel versions 2010-2019 for Mac and Windows, as well as Office 365. These flaws would allow an attacker to install malware just by getting a user to open a booby-trapped Office file.
Windows 10 likes to install patches all in one go and reboot your computer on its own schedule. Microsoft doesn’t make it easy for Windows 10 users to change this setting, but it is possible. For all other Windows OS users, if you’d rather be alerted to new updates when they’re available so you can choose when to install them, there’s a setting for that in Windows Update. To get there, click the Windows key on your keyboard and type “windows update” into the box that pops up.
Staying up-to-date on Windows patches is good. Updating only after you’ve backed up your important data and files is even better. A reliable backup means you’re not pulling your hair out if the odd buggy patch causes problems booting the system. So do yourself a favor and backup your files before installing any patches.
As always, if you experience any problems installing any of the patches this month, please feel free to leave a comment about it below; there’s a decent chance other readers have experienced the same and may even chime in here with some helpful tips.
Patches for Internet Explorer Zero-Day Causing Problems for Many Users
Microsoft released a new set of patches for a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer recently fixed due to problems reported by users with the previous patch.
The vulnerability resides in the Internet Explorer’s scripting engine, it affects the way that objects in memory are handled.
An attacker could exploit the vulnerability to gain the same privileges as the current user, the attack could be critical if the current user gains administrative privileges.
In order to exploit the vulnerability, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to trigger the flaw when Internet Explorer users will visit it. The attacker only has to trick victims into visiting the malicious website, for example, by sending to the victims a link to the malicious website via email or in a malicious email attachment (HTML file, PDF file, Microsoft Office document) that supports embedding the scripting engine content.
“A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that the scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user.” reads the security advisory published by Microsoft. “An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. “
On October 3, Microsoft released another set of patches for the
“To address a known printing issue customers might experience after installing the Security Updates or IE Cumulative updates that were released on September 23, 2019 for CVE-2019-1367, Microsoft is releasing new Security Updates, IE Cumulative Updates, and Monthly Rollup updates for all applicable installations of Internet Explorer 9, 10, or 11 on Microsoft Windows,” reads Microsoft Security Update
Several users reported that the cumulative update released by Microsoft is causing also boot issues and the crash of the start menu.
Microsoft pointed out that the IE Cumulative updates are separate from the October Patch Tuesday updates which are scheduled for October 8.
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