Microsoft's revamped security initiatives are driving down the number of patches. June's Patch Tuesday saw seven bulletins issued to address 22 vulnerabilities. Three are rated critical and four will require a restart.
We caught up with Tyler Reguly, technical manager of security research and development at nCircle, to get his take on what's most important this month. He told us that out of the seven bulletins released on Tuesday, only two are worth discussing: the IE bulletin and a new update for Remote Desktop.
"It's probably a toss-up which one should be updated first. The decision ultimately depends on the your environment. Do your users run IE? Is RDP enabled on every system?" Reguly suggested. "We see the remaining bulletins every month and, honestly, I'm getting tired of them. Win32k.sys and .NET XBAPs are starting to appear as frequently as Internet Explorer and attack types like DLL preloading and elevation of privilege have become more common than remote code execution."
A Close Relative to MS12-020
We also caught up with Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle, who told us that the unexpected RDP patch appears to be a close relative of MS12-020 that was released in March.
Storms reminds that MS12-020 was a network-based vulnerability that could be exploited without authentication. Some security researchers called it "worm food." Tuesday's RDP bug looks like an equally serious bug that was probably uncovered in the process of testing the previous RDP bug fixes, he said.
"Given the serious nature of the first RDP bug, it's not surprising that there was a lot of extra testing going on," Storms said. "Since Tuesday's patch release is conspicuously missing an acknowledgment for the bug finder, it seems safe to assume it was found by Microsoft staff."
Attacks in the Wild
We asked Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, what his thoughts were on the most important patches. He told us the highest priority is MS12-037, an advisory for Internet Explorer that fixes 12 vulnerabilities.
"One of them, CVE-2012-1875, is already being used in limited attacks in the wild, making it urgent to apply the patches for the vulnerability as quickly as possible," Kandek said. "Another one of the vulnerabilities addressed is CVE-2012-1876, which was turned over to Microsoft by VUPEN during the PWN2OWN contest, held in early March at CanSecWest in Vancouver."
Other Malware News
Finally, we turned to Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, to get his insights on other malware news IT admins should be concerned about. He told us Google issued a statement last week that they will warn Gmail users if they are being targeted by state-sponsored attacks.
"While this is a plausible effort, is there a point if it isn't actionable? As we saw with Stuxnet, state-sponsored malware is the most complex kind -- because unlike something from any hacker off the street, it has significant funding behind it," Henry said.
"Also, the question arises of how Google will know whether or not a specific attack is state-sponsored. The issue of attribution is a tricky one. While questions remain as to how such a notification from Google will come about, one thing remains clear... we'll be sure to see more of this activity, especially here in the U.S. after the government's recent admission to Stuxnet's creation."