Microsoft is better at documenting patch problems, but issues abound

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2019 03:55:00 -0700

I don’t know about you, but I’ve given up on Microsoft’s ability to deliver reliable patches. Month after month, we’ve seen big bugs and little bugs pushed and pulled and squished and re-squished. You can see a chronology from the past two years in my patching whack-a-mole columns starting here.

For the past few months, though, we’ve seen some improvement. Microsoft has started identifying and publicly acknowledging big bugs, shortly after they’re pushed. Consider:

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NSA, Microsoft implore enterprises to patch Windows' 'BlueKeep' flaw before it's too late

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2019 13:16:00 -0700

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on Tuesday called on IT administrators to apply security updates issued by Microsoft three weeks ago, adding to a chorus of voices urging haste.

“The National Security Agency is urging Microsoft Windows administrators and users to ensure they are using a patched and updated system in the face of growing threats,” the NSA said in a June 4 advisory.

The agency’s advice followed by several days that of Microsoft itself. On Thursday, May 30, a company official reminded users of the updates – which the company released May 14 – and implied that time is short. “We strongly advise that all affected systems should be updated as soon as possible,” Simon Pope, the director of incident response at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), wrote in a blog post.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: Patching whack-a-mole continues

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Thu, 30 May 2019 04:16:00 -0700

In a normal month, you need a scorecard to keep track of Windows patches. Now, your scorecards need a scorecard. One ray of hope: It looks like some Windows 10 cumulative updates will include the new “Download and install now” feature.

The May 2019 Windows updates have taken so many twists and turns it’s hard to pin things down, but as of Thursday morning, here’s what we’ve seen.

Windows 10 cumulative updates

As of now, all of the recent versions of Win10 (1607/Server 2016, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809/Server 2019) have had three cumulative updates in May. Depending on where you live (or, more correctly, which locality you’ve chosen for your machine), you’ve been pushed one or two of them. If you’re a “seeker” (and clicked “Check for updates” or downloaded and installed the patches), you’ve had at least two, and maybe three. Got that?

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Microsoft sets post-retirement patching record with Windows XP fix – 5 years after support ended

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Thu, 16 May 2019 10:03:00 -0700

Microsoft on Wednesday resurrected Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 long enough to push patches to the long-dead products. It was the first time since 2017 that Microsoft deemed the situation serious enough to warrant a security fix for XP.

Windows XP fell off the public support list in April 2014, while Windows Server 2003 was removed in July 2015.

“If you are on an out-of-support version, the best way to address this vulnerability is to upgrade to the latest version of Windows,” Simon Pope, director of incident response at the Microsoft Security Response Center, asserted in a post to a company blog. “Even so, we are making fixes available for these out-of-support versions of Windows.”

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Microsoft Patch Alert: April patches have sharp edges, with several missing, others reappearing

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2019 09:32:00 -0700

You have to wonder who’s testing this stuff.

Admins, in particular, have had a tough month. April brought widespread breakdowns – bluescreens, hangs, very sluggish behavior – to hundreds of thousands of Win7 and 8.1 machines. This wasn’t a “small percentage” kind of event. For some companies, rebooting overnight on Tuesday brought seas of blue screens on Wednesday morning.

The first round of cumulative updates and Monthly Rollups arrived on Patch Tuesday, but the now-ubiquitous second round didn’t show up until late Thursday afternoon, two and a half weeks later. Talk about admins taking a beating.

We still have one Tuesday left this month – the mythical “E week” that Microsoft never talks about – so the month may yet end with both a bang and whimper.

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Here's an easier way to block the IE XXE zero day security hole

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2019 09:57:00 -0700

The latest Internet Explorer XXE zero-day depends on you opening an infected MHT file. MHT is an old file format that’s almost always opened by IE — no matter which browser you’re using, no matter which version of Windows. Catalin Cimpanu has a good overview of this XXE vulnerability on ZDNet.

It’s a doozy of a security hole as it affects every recent version of IE, and it infects whether you’re actively browsing with IE or not.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: Most March patches look good

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Mon, 01 Apr 2019 16:04:00 -0700

March was an unusually light patching month – all of Office only had one security patch – and there don’t appear to be any immediate patching worries. Just as in the past few months, Microsoft’s holding off on its second cumulative update for Windows 10 1809, raising hopes that it’s taking Win10 quality more seriously.

Win10 1809 deployment proceeded at a positively lethargic rate, even though Microsoft declared the OS fit for business consumption last week, leading to all sorts of speculation about the next-next update, Win10 version 1903, ultimately overtaking its younger sibling.

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Microsoft to start selling Windows 7 add-on support April 1

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2019 12:06:00 -0800

Microsoft plans to start selling its Windows 7 add-on support beginning April 1.

Labeled “Extended Security Updates” (ESU), the post-retirement support will give enterprise customers more time to purge their environments of Windows 7. From Windows 7’s Jan. 14, 2020 end of support, ESU will provide security fixes for uncovered or reported vulnerabilities in the OS.

Patches will be issued only for bugs rated “Critical” or “Important” by Microsoft, the top two rankings in a four-step scoring system.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: After a serene February, Microsoft plops KB 4023057 into the Update Catalog

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2019 07:50:00 -0800

Microsoft continues to hold Windows 10 version 1809 close to the chest. While all of the other Win10 versions have had their usual twice-a-month cumulative updates, the latest version of the last version of Windows, 1809, still sits in the Windows Insider Release Preview Ring.

For most people, that’s excellent news. It seems that Microsoft is willing to hold off until they get the bugs fixed, at least in the 1809 releases. May I hear a “hallelujah” from the chorus?

Mystery update bulldozer KB 4023057 hits the Catalog

You’ve heard me talk about KB 4023057 many times, most recently in January. It’s a mysterious patch that Microsoft calls an “update reliability improvement” whose sole reason for existence, as best I can tell, is to blast away any blocks your machine may have to keep the next version of Windows (in this case, Win10 1809) from installing on your machine.

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It's time to block Windows Automatic Updating

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2019 05:15:00 -0800

Those of you who feel it’s important to install Windows and Office patches the moment they come out – I salute you. The Windows world needs more cannon fodder. When the bugs come out, as they inevitably will, I hope you’ll drop by AskWoody.com and tell us all about them.

For those who feel that, given Microsoft’s track record of pernicious patches, a bit of reticence is in order, I have some good news. Microsoft’s Security Response Center says that only a tiny percentage of patched security holes get exploited within 30 days of the patch becoming available.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: January patches include a reprisal of KB 4023057 and a swarm of lesser bugs

Credit to Author: Woody Leonhard| Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2019 09:12:00 -0800

In general, the January patches look relatively benign, but for some folks in some situations they can bite. Hard.

On the surface we’ve seen the usual Patch Tuesday Cumulative Updates and secondary Cumulative Updates for all versions of Windows 10. Microsoft calls the secondary Cumulative Updates “optional” because you only get them if you click “Check for updates.”

Windows 7 and 8.1 got their usual Monthly Rollups, but there’s a problem. Specifically, this month’s Win7 Monthly Rollup has a couple of bugs that are only fixed if you install the preview of February’s Monthly Rollup. Which makes no sense at all, but that’s Microsoft. There’s another Win7 Monthly Rollup bug that’s fixed by installing a different “silver bullet” patch.

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