January Patch Tuesday 2016

January 2016 is going to be anything but boring. Microsoft has a large lineup of updates. The bulletin list opens up 2016 with 10 bulletins — minus one. MS16-009 has been skipped and Microsoft went to MS16-010 instead. Is that a small joke relating to Windows 9 skipping to Windows 10? Maybe Microsoft doesn’t like the number nine for some reason. That oddity aside, Microsoft released six critical, three important and six public disclosures, along with a total vulnerability count of 26 resolved for January Patch Tuesday.

Also of note on the Microsoft side is an advisory deprecating the SHA-1 hashing algorithm and product end of lifes for Internet Explorer and Windows XP Embedded. Adobe announced a bulletin for Reader with an additional non-security release of Shockwave and Oracle is gearing up for its quarterly CPU, so expect Java to release next Tuesday, January 19.

Microsoft System Updates and End of Life Scheduling

Jan. 12 is a significant milestone for Internet Explorer support. Microsoft is releasing a final update for all supported IE versions, but after January it will only support the latest available for each Operating System. This means that for anything Windows 7 SP1 and later, you must be on IE 11 to continue receiving updates. There are a few exceptions for older operating systems that only supported up to IE 9 or 10. If you are still running applications or access sites that require IE 10 or earlier versions, you should plan to take some precautions. Restrict access to systems with outdated IE versions, virtualize them and close them off from direct Internet access. In extreme cases where you need to run an outdated version of IE on a system that requires access to the Internet, you should look to invest in additional protective measures, such as Bufferzone. This would containerize the browsing experience and protect the system to return it to a good state if anything untoward were to occur during that session.

Windows XP Embedded SP3 is also reaching its end of life today. It will be followed in a few months by Windows XP Embedded Point of Sale SP3, which is due to end on April 12. Retailers will start to sweat if you are still on those platforms after that date.

Expect both outdated IE versions and XP embedded systems to become bigger targets for attackers. Remove outdated software versions and operating systems wherever possible. Lock down environments that need to keep running these systems. Layer defenses and segregate them from other parts of your network. Restrict access as much as possible, reduce privilege levels of any user logging onto these systems and allow only whitelisted applications to be installed. I am guessing there will be those who look into the registry hack that was used to trick Windows XP into thinking it was Windows XP Embedded POSReady 2009. If you have no other recourse, you may roll the dice on that, since POSReady 2009 is really just another distribution of Windows XP Embedded. Moving off of the end of lifed platform is still the best option though.

Oracle’s quarterly CPU is coming on Jan. 19. I mention it now as those of you running Java will definitely want to plan to roll that update out when it arrives next week as well. In 2015, the lightest of the Java updates included 14 CVEs, all of which were remotely executable without authentications. The rest had 19–25 vulnerabilities resolved with more than 15 being remotely executable without requiring credentials.

Microsoft January Bulletins

MS16-001 and MS16-002 are updates to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge browsers. Both are rated as critical, resolving two vulnerabilities each. The IE patch includes a public disclosure (CVE-2016-005), which puts it at a higher risk of being exploited.

MS16-004 is an update for Microsoft Office and Visual Basic. The bulletin is rated critical and resolves six vulnerabilities including two public disclosures (CVE-2016-0035, CVE-2015-6117).

MS16-005 is a critical update for the Windows Operating System resolving two vulnerabilities including one public disclosure (CVE-2016-009). This is also a Kernel-Mode Driver update. Thorough testing is always recommended. If an application patch goes wrong you can just reinstall, but if a kernel patch goes wrong it will be more severe.

MS16-007 is an important update for Microsoft Windows, which resolves six vulnerabilities including two public disclosures (CVE-2016-0016, CVE-2016-0018). There are a few known issues with this update. To be fully protected you also need to have MS16-001 for Internet Explorer. Windows 10 users who have Citrix XenDesktop should be aware that installing this update will prevent login. Microsoft recommends users uninstall XenDesktop and installing this bulletin, then follow up with Citrix for a fix for XenDesktop.

The way the issue is worded on the bulletin page makes it sound like Microsoft’s methods of updating Windows 10 (Windows Update, WSUS, SCCM) will not offer this update if XenDesktop is installed. It states “Customers running Windows 10 or Windows 10 Version 1511 who have Citrix XenDesktop installed will not be offered the update.” So, if Windows 10 updates are all bundled, cumulative updates, this would mean that the January cumulative for Windows 10 would not be installed. That means all five bulletins that would affect Windows 10 would go unpatched until the issue is resolved.

MS16-008 is only rated as Important and no public disclosures, but it is a Kernel patch addressing Elevation of Privilege vulnerabilities. Thorough testing is recommended before rollout.

MS16-009 did not drop yet. This could mean it will not arrive until February, or it could come out of band. The last time we saw a bulletin be skipped in the order was an SQL update that dropped between Patch Tuesdays. Keep an eye out for this one in case it comes late. It will likely be a high priority if that is the case.

MS16-010 is an important update for Microsoft Exchange. No public disclosures or known issues, so recommendation is thorough testing and rollout in a timely manner.

Third Party Bulletins

Adobe has released one bulletin this month. APSB16-002 for Adobe Reader is a Priority 2 update resolving 17 vulnerabilities. The only other update from Adobe today was an update for Shockwave, which did not have an accompanying bulletin. APSB16-001 for Adobe Flash actually first dropped in late December with a re-release the next day resolving an Active-X issue. That release likely came early due to a known exploit in the wild (CVE-2015-8651). Ensure that the Flash update is rolled out if you have not already done so.

Join us tomorrow for the January Patch Tuesday webinar where we will discuss the bulletins in more detail.