In-Depth

12 Microsoft Patches to Improve Security

Microsoft Security Response Center plans to publish twelve security bulletins that will address at least four

Get ready for the mother of all Patch Tuesdays. As of now, the Microsoft Security Response Center plans to publish twelve security bulletins, according to recent Microsoft advance notification.

At least four updates will address critical issues, Microsoft said—although Redmond was vague about just how many critical updates it plans to release. Microsoft lumped the bulletins into several groups: eight of which affect Windows, two of which affect Office, one of which affects both Windows and Office, and an assortment of others that affect Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC), Microsoft's malware and antivirus technologies (Microsoft Antigen, Microsoft Windows Defender, and Microsoft Forefront), and Visual Studio, among others.

Of the five Windows bulletins, the advance notification says that, "The highest Maximum Severity rating for these is Critical." At least one Windows bulletin, one Office bulletin, along with the combined Windows-Office bulletin and the malware and antivirus bulletin, merit severity ratings of "Critical."

The advance notification isn't always the last word in Patch Tuesday deliverables, of course. Last month, for example, Microsoft yanked several promised Windows patches from its Patch Tuesday payload. Redmond typically pulls a patch if it discovers problems during testing, or if it identifies other issues.

The software giant didn't say whether this Tuesday's patch haul will include fixes for any of several Word zero-day exploits now in circulation; nor did Microsoft indicate if this Patch Tuesday payload will address an Excel zero-day attack that recently came to light.

With two Office-related bulletins in the offing, as well as a combined Windows and Office bulletin coming, it's possible Microsoft plans to patch these vulnerabilities.

Microsoft customers will also see an update of the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool amongst the deliverables from this Patch Tuesday. In addition, Microsoft plans to distribute two non-security high-priority updates via Windows Update (WU) and Software Update Services (SUS); along with eight non-security high priority updates via Microsoft Update (MU) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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