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Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 receive first patches

Two months after general availability, Windows Server 2012 received its first Patch Tuesday fixes.

Two Patch Tuesday’s have passed without a mention of Windows Server 2012. In November, that trend ended.

Three critical bulletins Microsoft released this week as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday updates promise fixes for Windows Server 2012.

Bulletin MS-075 fixes three vulnerabilities in Windows kernel-mode drivers, which could also lead to remote code execution. These have to do with issues where documents embedded with a malicious TrueType font could let an attacker take control of a system.

While this impacts Windows Server 2012, the biggest threat is on workstation machines that run Windows 8 or earlier, said Jason Miller, member of Shavlik Technologies' Patch Patrol team.

It's very unlikely a well-trained admin would do web browsing from the server operating system, so the potential for any exploitation from this bulletin on the server side is unlikely.

One security expert says it isn't too surprising that patches such as MS-075 apply to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

"Windows 8 has a lot of new interesting security features [and] a lot of code that it inherited from Windows 7," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys Inc., an IT services firm based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Admins will want to apply patches from Bulletin MS-072, which is rated critical and addresses a vulnerability in the Windows Shell that might lead to remote code execution. Microsoft rated this bulletin as one that's likely to be exploited.

Microsoft's .NET Framework also fixed vulnerabilities, but admins shouldn’t worry if they patched the .NET Framework version 4.5 when it was released last month as part of the General Availability Cumulative Update. Windows RT, the ARM processor-based version of Windows, is also affected by this vulnerability.

Finally, Office received a critical update that could impact workstations. A maliciously crafted Excel file could lead to remote code execution.

Internet Explorer 9 receives critical fix, IE 10 preview released for Windows 7

Admins will also want to patch Internet Explorer installations on workstations, due to critical vulnerabilities found in the product that could lead to remote code execution.

While all supported versions of IE typically receive patches, Bulletin MS12-071 only deals with IE 9 and IE 10 for Windows 8.

"Our data we saw that not that many people have migrated to IE 9," said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, an IT services firm based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

More patch re-releases resolve signing errors

Last month, Microsoft had to re-release bulletins from earlier this year due to a signing issue that would make the patches expire too early. Another patch can be added to that list; Bulletin MS12-046 would need to be reapplied to ward off any issues.

Similarly, Microsoft is re-releasing some non-security patches as well. In fact, an Exchange update rollup that was re-released last month was re-released Tuesday. Update Rollup 8 Version 3 of Exchange Server 2007 SP3 replaces version 2 that was just released October.

Miller said there is some confusion as to where each re-release is listed. For instance, Microsoft only lists security updates that were re-released on its own page.

"Hopefully Microsoft will get all [re-released patches listed] in one area," he said.

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