Missing Exchange Patch Expected Among December Patch Tuesday Bulletins

Microsoft’s December 2014 advanced Patch Tuesday notification includes three critical bulletins and a missing Exchange patch originally scheduled for November.

Microsoft made patch news on two fronts last month with an unusual emergency patch for a critical vulnerability in Kerberos, and for a missing fix for an Exchange bug that was promised in its November advanced notification.

In the December advance notification, released today, an elevation privilege bug in Exchange is listed among seven scheduled bulletins to be pushed out next Tuesday. The Exchange patch is rated important, one of four bulletins so rated by Microsoft; the remaining three are rated critical, meaning the likelihood of remote code execution and imminent exploit is high.

Expect the Exchange patch to be MS14-075. The patch applies to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 SP3, Exchange Server 2010 SP3, Exchange Server 2013 SP1 and Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 6. No further details were made available by Microsoft.

The three critical bulletins expected next week are topped off by another Internet Explorer rollup. The IE vulnerabilities addressed are rated moderate for IE 6, IE 7 and IE 8 running on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. They are rated critical for remote code execution on Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1 for IE 7 and up.

Another critical remote code execution bulletin is expected in Office software starting with Microsoft Word 2007 SP 3, as well as Microsoft Office 2010 SP 2, Word 2010 SP 2, Word 2013 and Word 2013 RT. Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 is also vulnerable, as is Microsoft Word Viewer and Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, 2013, and Microsoft Office Web apps 2010 and 2013 are also covered by this bulletin, but those vulnerabilities are rated important.

Two other bulletins patch remote code execution vulnerabilities in Office, but are rated important, meaning there is some mitigating circumstance, for example, an attacker would need local access or legitimate credentials exploit the flaw.

“With the balance of next week’s bulletins impacting Windows, December will be a month for IT to focus on the desktop,” said Russ Ernst of Lumension.

The final critical bulletin covers remote code execution vulnerabilities in Windows Vista. The flaw is rated important for all other Windows Server versions. Windows Server 2003 users, meanwhile, are on notice that support runs out for the platform July 14, 2015.

As the year winds down, the number of critical bulletins is down. Microsoft is on track for 29 critical bulletins this year, compared to 42 last year, and 35 the year before. IT shops will have 83 bulletins to contend with this year, down from 105 in 2013, Lumension said.

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