On February 12, Microsoft issued a series of software fixes that address over 70 security issues, several of which are critical vulnerabilities. Applying these patches is necessary to prevent bad actors from compromising systems with malware, gaining unauthorized access to data, and performing other malicious exploits.
The patches were issued as part of Microsoft’s “Patch Tuesday” program, in which a series of software updates for vulnerability issues are typically released on the second Tuesday of the month. In addition to the software, a full description of the issues, including links to related knowledgebase articles is included. Release notes for the patches are also available.
The patches correct a wide range of issues for multiple Windows operating systems and software that interacts with them. The updates affect enterprise-wide issues, as well as issues that can be exploited on an end-user level.
Multiple vulnerabilities addressed in the updates are considered critical, with potential to compromise systems and data. For example, a patch covers an issue with Microsoft Exchange email services in which attackers could potentially gain access to the inboxes of other users. Another critical vulnerability would allow attackers to execute malicious code by sending a specially designed DHCP internet address request. Another patch addresses an Internet Explorer bug that enables bad actors to locate specific files on user hard drives.
Some of the issues addressed by the patches have already been discovered in use, while some are considered “zero day,” i.e., newly uncovered. Some of the addressed exploits apply to Microsoft products and applications, while some apply to software that interacts with Microsoft products (e.g., Adobe® Acrobat® and Adobe Reader®) in which numerous security holes have been addressed. Patch installation is highly recommended by Microsoft, both on an enterprise-wide level and for individual end users at home.
ACA Aponix Guidance
ACA Aponix recommends taking the following actions regarding the Microsoft patch update:
- Apply the Microsoft patches to all systems across the organization. If possible, stage the patch release to a pilot group first and then to the rest of the firm, to enable addressing secondary issues that may arise.
- Encourage the use of automatic Windows Updates for staff end-user devices.
- Monitor system logs for unusual activity.
- Ensure that data backup and related resiliency plans are up-to-date and functional.
- Review and update existing incident response plans to prepare reaction in the event of a breach.
- Strongly encourage third-party vendors to apply this and other patch updates, as part of a larger vendor oversight program.
How ACA Can Help
ACA Aponix offers the following solutions that can help protect your firm from vulnerabilities and related cybersecurity risk, including:
- Microsoft Office 365 security assessments
- Cyber incident response planning
- Phishing testing and cyber awareness training
- Cybersecurity and technology risk assessments
- Penetration testing and vulnerability assessments
- Vendor diligence and management
- Threat intelligence
For More Information
If you have any questions, please contact your regular ACA Aponix consultant, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org