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Risk

12/5/2008
07:41 AM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Big--BIG--Microsoft Patch Tuesday Coming. Do You Care?

Next Tuesday is the last Microsoft "Patch Tuesday" of 2008, and signs are it's going to be a big one. Patches will be released to plug eight vulnerabilities. Six of those are labeled critical. And a fair percentage of users won't pay any more attention to these patches than they do to others.

Next Tuesday is the last Microsoft "Patch Tuesday" of 2008, and signs are it's going to be a big one. Patches will be released to plug eight vulnerabilities. Six of those are labeled critical. And a fair percentage of users won't pay any more attention to these patches than they do to others.Microsoft's Advance Notification of next week's Security Bulletin makes clear that some serious vulnerabilities, some of them longstanding serious vulnerabilities, are getting fixed next week.

For most of you, with automatic Windows update and patch settings long in-place, sound patch implementation and deployment policies long ingrained, Tuesday will bring some vulnerability relief, and do so automatically while you do other things. (Like attend the bMighty bOptimized virtual event.)

But there are plenty of people who don't patch until they have to (and some, of course, who don't patch even then.)

Reaction to a recent non-Tuesday critical Microsoft Windows Server patch release shows what it takes to get some users to patch.

Off-cycle, non-Tuesday patch releases are so rare -- it's only happened once in the last three years -- that their very existence is a redder critical flag than even critical Tuesday patches.

Yet in October,a major and critical off-cycle patch got no more attention than the month's regularly scheduled Tuesday patches.

Only when anti-malware makers started sending alerts that the vulnerbility was being actively exploited a did the patch rate start to climb toward regular patch-cycle levels.

And there's the rub: over those few weeks that installation the critical patch took to reach normal levels, a botnet vector used the vulnerability to compromise as many as half a million machines.

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