In its largest Patch Tuesday to date this year, Microsoft released 16 total security bulletins, five of which were deemed “critical” while nine others were labeled “important.”
Patch Tuesday is a monthly occurrence where Microsoft releases any necessary patches for their various products. Many of them are Windows updates designed to keep Microsoft’s operating systems safe. “Patch Tuesday is primarily for addressing vulnerabilities,” says Steve Barthmaier, IT Consultant at Miles Technologies. “This is Microsoft’s way of addressing the latest viruses.”
In this particular release, having five critical updates related to security vulnerabilities means that there are important issues Microsoft is working to correct. One of the most noteworthy ones is the Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer. This addresses a very serious security issue in Internet Explorer, where visiting a specifically designed web page in the browser could allow for a remote code execution. This means an attacker could exploit that vulnerability to gain access to a computer with the same privileges as the user. This is especially worrisome for users who have administrator access.
With recent high-profile vulnerabilities such as CryptoWall and the POODLE/BEAST Exploits, it comes as no surprise that businesses everywhere are on high alert trying to protect themselves from the latest attacks. Staying on top of these Microsoft updates is an important step for companies to take to help stay secure. “These patch updates are pivotal for businesses, because they are eliminating security problems,” Barthmaier says. “If you do not run these updates, you run the risk of losing critical data.”
While running these updates is highly important for businesses, it is also vital to remember that these updates are not made in a vacuum. Some of the patches could potentially make significant changes to users’ workstations or pieces of a business’s IT systems. “It is also important to gauge the impact of these updates,” Barthmaier says. “For example, certain security updates may change what ports are open, and those ports may also be in use by another piece of software on the computer. Make sure the updates are applicable to your system.”
The large number of patches being released this month shows that Microsoft is on high alert for attackers who keep looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to your systems. This means businesses need to be especially vigilant. In addition to installing Windows updates or other Microsoft patches, business should also be taking steps to proactively monitor their systems and make sure their employees are on alert for suspicious emails or links.
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