First on your list of Microsoft priorities should be MS14-002, which is a patch for the elevation of privilege vulnerability discovered in late November with active exploits against Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users. This bulletin addresses one CVE and has only been seen used in conjunction with a vulnerability in Adobe Reader and Acrobat that was patched in May as part of Adobe Security Bulletin APSB 13-15. This was typically exploited by an attacker sending your user a spear phishing email with a bad Adobe link. Once clicked, that attacker could then gain administrator access to the machine. Keeping your Adobe applications fully patched will mitigate this vulnerability, but it’s important to apply MS14-002 as a defense in depth.
MS14-002 replaces Security Advisory 2914486. This bulletin is only given a severity of “Important“ for a variety of reasons, including the fact that Microsoft will end support for XP in April. If you’re still using XP, this will be an important patch to deploy. And, hopefully, you are working on your platform migration plan.
This month’s Patch Tuesday aligns with Januarys of past … issuing a low number of Microsoft patches and giving IT a reprieve to start the year. We have just four new bulletins this month covering six CVEs. None of the bulletins are rated critical and only one bulletin was known to have active exploits prior to today’s release. According to Russ Ernst, director, product management, Lumension, after you deploy the few needed patches this month, you likely will need to turn your attention to Adobe as well as Oracle’s quarterly security updates, however. They announced that they will release 144 new security vulnerability fixes for hundreds of products.