Microsoft will, next week, patch a zero-day vulnerability in its GDI+ graphics component being exploited in targeted attacks in the Middle East and Asia.

The zero day has sat unpatched since it was made public Nov. 5; Microsoft did release a FixIt tool as a temporary mitigation. The patch is one of 11 bulletins Microsoft said today it will release as part of its December 2013 Patch Tuesday security updates; five of the bulletins will be rated critical.

Microsoft did confirm, however, that a zero day in the NDProxy driver that manages the Microsoft Telephony API on Windows XP systems will not be patched. That zero day is also being exploited in the wild alongside a PDF exploit of a patched Adobe Reader flaw.

The GDI+ vulnerability is found in several versions of Windows and Office and enables an attacker to gain remote-code execution, but only on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Office 2003 through 2010. The vulnerability exists in the way the GDI+ component handles TIFF images. Microsoft said an attacker would have to entice a victim to preview or open a malicious TIFF attachment or visit a website hosting the exploit image.

Tuesday’s critical patches address remote code execution vulnerabilities in a number of Microsoft products, including not only Windows and Office, but Lync, Internet Explorer and Exchange. Vulnerabilities in SharePoint, Lync, SingnalR and ASP.NET are among those rated important by Microsoft. Those vulnerabilities are primarily privilege escalation issues as well as an information disclosure bug.

This will be the last scheduled release of security updates from Microsoft for the year. It looks like Tuesday’s updates will bring the 2013 count to 106 bulletins, up sharply from 83 last year, according to Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek. Microsoft had similar numbers of bulletins in 2011 (100) and 2010 (106).

“Regarding 0-days, Microsoft has consistently pointed out that the additional security toolkit EMET (Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit) has been effective against all of the 0-day problems this year,” Kandek said. “We believe it is a proactive security measure that organizations should evaluate and consider as an additional layer in their defensive measures.”

The XP zero-day, meanwhile, will likely be left for the January 2014 Patch Tuesday updates. The vulnerability is a privilege escalation vulnerability and allows kernel access.

FireEye researchers said they found the exploit in the wild being used alongside a PDF-based exploit against a patched Adobe Reader vulnerability. Reader versions 9.5.4, 10.1.6, 11.0.02 and earlier on XP SP3 are affected, later versions are not, FireEye said, adding that this exploit gives a local user the ability to execute code in the kernel, such as install new software, manipulate data, or create new accounts. The exploit cannot be used remotely, the company said.

Microsoft recommended deleting the NDProxy.sys driver as a workaround; the mitigation, however, will impact TAPI operations.

“System administrators everywhere must have made Microsoft’s naughty list because this holiday ‘gift’ is clearly a lump of coal,” said Tyler Reguly, technical manager of security research and development at Tripwire. “Microsoft is wrapping up the 2013 patch season with anything that was laying around. Someone should tell Microsoft they forgot to include the kitchen sink.”

Categories: Microsoft