Microsoft plans to debut impact predictions related to vulnerabilities with the next edition of its Patch Tuesday update cycle.
The 11 bulletins due to arrive later on Tuesday (14 October) will contain "weather predictions" detailing factors such as whether exploit code is likely to appear, alongside the established rating system on the severity of vulnerabilities. Microsoft hopes its Exploitability Index will help organisations to prioritise patching.
Microsoft, unlike Cisco and organisations like US Cert, won't be rating vulnerabilities under Common Vulnerability Scoring System. This is because it reckons (with some justification) that descriptions such as 'critical' or 'moderate' are more meaningful to the majority of people than ratings of between one and ten covered by CVSS.
Information on whether or not an exploit is available and assessments on the severity of threats are already available through the SANS Institute's well regarded monthly summary of Microsoft's bulletin. The Exploitability Index, announced two months ago, adds a predictive (crystal ball gazing) element to the mix.
Microsoft is also due to begin rolling out a program to give security vendors advance details on upcoming patches. The Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), also announced at the Black Hat conference back in August, will operate under non-disclosure agreements to give anti-virus suppliers and the like the chance to prepare for patches and the attacks against unpatched Windows PCs that sometimes follow. Previously, the likes of Symantec and Sophos had no more idea what was due to arrive on Patch Tuesday than the great unwashed.
Tuesday's updates are due to cover flaws involving various components of Windows and Office, as well as an update from Microsoft Host Integration Server software. Four of these updates earn the dreaded rating of critical. ®