Microsoft today said it would deliver 11 security updates next week to patch 25 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office and Exchange.
"Big day next Tuesday," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, of the patch news.
In its monthly advance notification, Microsoft spelled out next week's double-digit Patch Tuesday, which is entirely in line with company's pattern of alternating large- and small-sized updates, said Storms. "This fits with what we expected," he said, "a double-digit bulletin [Patch Tuesday] and double-digit CVEs."
The latter, for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, is the identifying number each individual vulnerability receives when it's logged into the public CVE database. "We get this up-and-down from Microsoft now."
Last month, Microsoft issued only two updates that patched six vulnerabilities; February's security fixes came in 13 bulletins that fixed 26 flaws.
"The good news is that Microsoft is fixing two outstanding bugs," Storms continued.
Storms was referring to news from Jerry Bryant, a group manager with the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), who said that among the 11 updates would be two that patch previously-acknowledged vulnerabilities. Microsoft disclosed the bugs in November 2009 and March 2010.
The March security advisory warned Windows XP users not to press the F1 key when prompted by a Web site, Microsoft's response to a report by Polish security researcher Maurycy Prodeus of a vulnerability in VBScript that attackers could exploit to hijack PCs running Internet Explorer (IE).
The November 2009 warning was prompted by reports of a bug in SMB (Server Message Block), a Microsoft-made network file- and print-sharing protocol, within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft's newest operating systems. At the time, the flaw was the first Microsoft-confirmed zero-day vulnerability for Windows 7.
"That's a little long...for the SMB bug," said Storms, talking about the five-month stretch between Microsoft acknowledging the vulnerability and fixing it. "I'd say that it's more than likely that it affected more [code] than they expected, or they just didn't see a lot of need for a patch, considering the threat landscape."
Of the 11 updates, those Microsoft today marked as "Bulletin 1" and "Bulletin 2" were the most interesting to Storms because both were marked "critical," and both affected all supported versions of Windows -- from Windows 2000 to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
Five of the impending updates were tagged critical by Microsoft, the top threat ranking in its four-step scoring system. Another five were labeled "Important," the second-highest next rating, while the last was marked "Moderate."