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Microsoft Patch Tuesday Roundup - October 2010 - "Nightmare" Edition

"One, two, attackers are coming for you…"

In yet another record setting Patch Tuesday, Microsoft has provided fixes for 81vulnerabilities covering just about every supported Microsoft product. No matter how you slice or dice it, patches will need to be distributed throughout your environment on a large scale. There are several articles available to help you prioritize the installation of these patches. The matrix of which patches are important and the mitigating factors are simply dizzying and confusing. The Microsoft Research & Defense blog put up a post that details some of the attack vectors for each vulnerability and information about the mitigations. The blog tries to paint a prettier picture, but in the end, it’s an all-out bloodbath of vulnerabilities, exploits and patches.

nightmare-on-elm.jpg

"Nine, ten, thanks to Microsoft, administrators will never sleep again." Okay, "never" is a bit strong. Certainly, administrators will lose some sleep due to not only Microsoft updates, but Oracle patches as well (81 vulnerabilities have been patched in the latest round by Oracle).


"Three, four, better lock your door."

With so many vulnerabilities being patched this month, the need for a solid patch management program is clear. This means:

  • Having a process to identify and review the patches and vulnerabilities affecting your environment. There are a few ways to accomplish this, however OSVDB has a nice free service that allows you to choose what software or vendors you are interested in and sends you the information on only those vulnerabilities.
  • Working with your systems administrators to implement your process and procedures for applying patches throughout your environment. This means working out appropriate times to install patches and reboot systems so the patches take effect. It also means that you need to work with systems administrators to prioritize which patches are applied first. I wouldn't focus too much on this activity as the patches all need to get installed at some point and the longer you drag out the process the more vulnerable you are to attacks.
  • The final stage is to constantly monitor your environment for missing patches. The process of installing patches is "messy" and your environment is dynamic (machines are constantly moving around, going off the network and coming back on). Processes need to be in place to check the patch level of all systems and (most importantly) put that information in the hands of people who can apply the patches.

To further aid in your efforts to evaluate the dangers of the Microsoft Patch Tuesday mayhem, Tenable's Research team has published plugins for each of the security bulletins issued this month:

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