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7/10/2018
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Microsoft July Security Updates Mostly Browser-Related

Patch Tuesday includes 53 security updates, including mitigation for the latest side-channel attack.

Microsoft issued a range of security patches today, including its anticipated exploit-mitigation update for the so-called Lazy FP State Restore vulnerability in Intel microprocessors.

Intel late last month disclosed Lazy FP State Restore (CVE-2018-3665), the latest speculative execution side-channel vulnerability to be discovered since the first two, Meltdown and Spectre. This class of microprocessor flaws lets an attacker steal data, including cryptographic secrets. 

Microsoft's new mitigations for Lazy FP provide protections from the attack for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, and x64-based Windows 8.1 and 10. Microsoft last month published information on the attack, which, like other Meltdown/Spectre-type vulnerabilities, requires the attacker to execute code on the vulnerable computer.

"These are all mitigations and not really remediations," says Jimmy Graham, director of product management at Qualys. "So they are really just preventing exploitation, even though the vulnerability is still there."

In all, Microsoft issued 53 CVE updates today, 17 of which were critical. Meanwhile, Adobe released a whopping 105 updates, with the majority of critical ones for Acrobat and Reader. Just one critical vuln fix was issued for the notoriously buggy Flash. Microsoft issued several patches for Flash updates on its platforms as well.

Microsoft patched Internet Explorer (IE), Edge, ChakraCore, Windows, .NET Framework, ASP.NET, PowerShell, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Office and Office Services. Among the critical bugs were memory corruption vulns in IE and Edge browsers, as well as its Chakra platform. 

Browsers were the main theme in this month's Patch Tuesday, mainly because there were relatively and uncharacteristically few Windows patches, notes Graham. He recommends that organizations prioritize the browser patches for workstations and workstation-type devices. "There are systems that could get overlooked [here], like multiuser servers like Citrix. They are behaving like workstations and need to be patched as well," Graham says.

Meantime, Adobe's continued high volume of vulnerabilities has echoes of previous Windows problems. 

"In the past, we saw Microsoft implement mitigations for certain types of vulnerabilities that shut down entire classes of bugs. To address the substantial number of bugs we continue to buy in Adobe products, they may need to take a similar approach," says Dustin Childs, communications manager for Trend Micro's ZDI team.

Qualys' Graham notes that there were more than 50 critical CVEs associated with Acrobat and Reader. 

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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