on Tuesday issued four security
bulletins -- all rated important. The bulletins address six vulnerabilities in Windows, Office and Dynamics AX and give IT a break from the slew of critical patches in the fourth quarter of 2013.
We turned to Russ Ernst, director of product management at Lumension, to get his take on the first Patch Tuesday of the year. He told us this release aligns with Januarys in past years -- a small number of Microsoft patches.
“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,” Ernst said. “This bulletin addresses 1 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.”
According to Ernst, this was typically exploited by an attacker sending a spear phishing e-mail 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, he said, but it’s important to apply MS14-002 as a defense in depth.
Your Top Priorities
“Second on your list of priorities should be MS14-001. It’s a vulnerability in Office that could allow a remote code execution and it covers 3 CVEs,” Ernst said. “While there are no known active attacks, the vulnerability has an exploitability index of one, meaning exploit code is likely within the next 30 days. This bulletin is applicable to all currently supported versions of Microsoft Word on Windows. Microsoft Office for Mac is unaffected.”
Ernst said MS14-003 is a vulnerability that could lead to an elevation of privilege in the Windows kernel mode drivers. It covers one CVE for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 and has no known active attacks. Microsoft gives a deployment priority of two and Ernst said it should be third on your list this month.
Finally, he noted, MS14-004 is a vulnerability in Microsoft Dynamics AX that could allow a denial of service. It covers one CVE as well and there are no known active attacks. He said this is a server-side vulnerability and noted that the updated service will not automatically restart. So if this applies to you, the best practice would be to manually restart the impacted service after applying the update.
A Flurry of Patches
Tyler Reguly, security research and development manager for Tripwire, told us there's only one interesting patch today: MS14-002. The bulletin addresses a known privilege escalation that has been used in conjunction with Adobe exploits to escape the sandbox and gain system level access. He agreed that this patch should be at the top of everyone's priority list.
“Microsoft and Adobe has been mostly synchronized for a while now and that has made security teams’ lives easier. I was, however, shocked to see Oracle jumping on the bandwagon this month,” Reguly said.
“Here's hoping large enterprises have everything in place to handle the sheer volume of patches coming out today. With three major vendors releasing content, this is definitely a time to have solid vulnerability management program in place,” he said.