IT admins may have taken the Fourth off to enjoy some fireworks, but they’ll be very busy this week patching their systems. It’s not a pretty Patch Tuesday this month with seven bulletins, six of which are critical. That brings our total of critical bulletins for the year to 22, which is fairly high, considering Microsoft released only 34 critical bulletins for the entire calendar year of 2012. July is one of the uglier releases we’ve seen from Microsoft this year. To say that all Microsoft products are affected and everything is affected critically is not an overstatement. It’s difficult to prioritize one or two because all the bulletins likely need your attention this Patch Tuesday.
While there may be speculation the extensive release is due to Microsoft’s bug bounty program, Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, believes that’s unlikely. Since the announcement of the program took most security researchers by surprise, it will likely be a few months before we really see the effects of the program. That said, he does expect to see the number of bulletins Microsoft issues increase over the second half of this year.
Microsoft has long resisted implementing a bug bounty program, which other vendors have found success with. The start of the program will likely increase the number of bulletins we see over time, but in the long run, will ensure that Microsoft products are more secure. It will also help motivate researchers to improve their disclosure with Microsoft over other sources that purchase vulnerabilities, which includes bad guys. This ensures Microsoft will be aware of vulnerabilities more quickly and we won’t see as many bugs being exploited in the wild before Microsoft is ready to release a patch.
All six of the critical bulletins this month are remote code execution vulnerabilities, which Henry finds concerning. Since these types of vulnerabilities give attackers access to your machine without needing physical access or sometimes even a password, it’s definitely a cause for concern.
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