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Patch Tuesday March 2009

Tuesday, March 10, was the second Tuesday of the month, the day colloquially known to MS system administrators and security mavens as “Patch Tuesday.” Here’s a smorgasbord of the items that showed up in the list of 3/10/2009 items with relevance for Windows Vista:

  • MS09-006 Vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (KB958690). This is first kernel vulnerability to come along for a while and as such affects all supported versions of Windows back to Windows 2000. Most fixes go the the Win32k.sys file, which ranks right up there with ntoskrnl.exe at the heart of Windows OSes everywhere. Update this one quick!
  • MS09-007 Vulnerability in SChannel Could Allow Spoofing (KB960225). This privately reported item, if exploited, could allow an attacker who gains access to end-user certificates to successfully impersonate (spoof) those users, but only when the public key component of an authentication certificate has also been obtained as well. This affects all supported versions of Windows as well. If you use end-user certificates as part of your authentication mechanisms, you’ll want to apply this update quickly as well.

Another bulletin (MS09-008) was also released with fixes for vulnerabilities in DNS and WINS Server code that could permit address spoofing for potential man-in-the-middle or site impersonation attacks. But you can leave these fixes for the server gang, unless you happen to take care of your organization’s servers as well.

For the record, only MS09-006 is rated Critical, while both MS09-007 and MS09-008 are rated Important. Given the nature of the related vulnerabilities, anyone who’s affected by either Important item should probably expedite pushing this update out as quickly as possible anyway. And of course any Critical item needs to make its way onto Vista (and other Windows) machines as soon as circumstances and testing/deployment requirements permit.

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