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Microsoft Preps Record Security Patch Tuesday

To lighten the patch burden over the holiday season, Microsoft plans to release an unprecedented number of fixes in October.

Just in time for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Microsoft next week plans to release its largest security patch to date.

It was only two months ago, in August, that Microsoft broke its previous October, 2009, record, with the release of 14 bulletins to address 34 vulnerabilities.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed
(click image for larger view and for full photo gallery)

Come October 12, 2010, IT administrators should be prepared for 16 bulletins covering 49 vulnerabilities.

Four of the bulletins are designated "critical," ten are rated "important," and two are "moderate." As is typical, Microsoft is not providing any details about vulnerabilities because that information could be used to create exploits prior to the release of its patch.

"The theory behind the larger October patch is that many industries go into 'lock-down' mode with their critical infrastructure as the end of year approaches," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, in an e-mailed statement. "Finance and retail sectors in particular are extremely careful with changes in the latter part of the year given the heavy volume of online shopping."

Storms notes that the known DLL load hijacking vulnerability is not specifically mentioned in Microsoft's notice about its upcoming patch, making it unclear how or whether the company will address the issue.

In late August, Microsoft published a security advisory warning that insecure DLL loading could be exploited. The issue was not addressed in the company's September patch.

In a blog post, Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, notes that one of the critical updates covers Internet Explorer, versions 6, 7, and 8, and that Microsoft Word 2010 makes its first appearance in a security advisory.

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