November 10th 2014
This month's Patch Tuesday from Microsoft, which takes place tomorrow, will see a larger than usual number of bug fixes, patches and other updates to the company's software.
The second Tuesday of the month is Microsoft's regular date for issuing new updates. Tomorrow, a total of 16 will be released, fixing holes in Windows, Internet Explorer and Office.
Five are assigned the 'critical' rating by Microsoft, meaning the bugs they are fixing could allow attackers to execute code from a remote location to access and take control of a computer. These all affect specific versions of Microsoft Windows including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Server. One also affects Internet Explorer versions 7 to 11.
Microsoft describes a critical patch as follows: "A vulnerability whose exploitation could allow code execution without user interaction. These scenarios include self-propagating malware (e.g. network worms), or unavoidable common use scenarios where code execution occurs without warnings or prompts. This could mean browsing to a web page or opening email."
In other words, not patching could mean that you will open a malicious webpage or email attachment and infect your computer.
If you are a Windows user who has Automatic Updates enabled, you do not need to do anything manually, as they will be installed automatically tomorrow as they become available. Please note, however, that some do require a restart of PCs.
Another nine patches are rated 'important' … applying to bugs that are not as serious as the critical ones, but still requiring installation for full protection. These apply to Windows, Office and Exchange. Important updates are also installed automatically if you have Automatic Updates enabled.
The remaining two patches are 'moderate', indicating a still lower risk. Microsoft advises that these should also be installed.
Individuals using Automatic Updates should find the process simple, but IT administrators who test the updates before rolling them out network-wide will find that the volume of updates this month will consume time and effort.