The Valentine’s Day edition of Patch Tuesday brought nine security bulletins that collectively address 21 software vulnerabilities.
The batch includes four critical updates but the consensus among security experts is that a security patch for IE is the only one that sysadmins need to worry about. That's because MS12-010 addresses four flaws in all supported versions of Internet Explorer that might easily lend themselves towards crafting drive-by-download exploits and other unpleasantness.
"This month’s Patch Tuesday is relatively light," said Jim Walter, manager of the McAfee Threat Intelligence Service at McAfee Labs. "The Internet Explorer bulletin should be considered a top priority, as there’s a risk of code execution attacks. If not attended to, browser exploits can be particularly harmful."
Wolfgang Kandek, CTO at Qualys, adds that another patch (MS12-013) addresses "equally dangerous" flaw in Windows.
"Attackers can exploit a flaw in a Windows DLL (msvcrt.dll) through a maliciously crafted media file run through Windows Media Player," he explains. "Include this bulletin in your list of high priorities."
The other two critical and five important updates (affecting Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and .NET/Silverlight) are less of a practical problem than they might have appeared to be last week, before we knew more about the flaws the updates attempt to resolve, he adds.
Tuesday also brought a series of critical patches for Shockwave Player (Windows and Mac) and one important update in RoboHelp for Word from Adobe.
Multiple third-party vendors have released security updates since January's Patch Tuesday. These include Opera, Google Chrome (twice), Yahoo Messenger, Mozilla Firefox (twice), Mozilla Thunderbird (twice), Mozilla SeaMonkey (twice), Real Player and Skype.
Jason Miller, manager of research and development at VMware – the security researcher keeping count of third-party security updates – warns the sheer volume of updates means a heavy patching workload for some sysadmins.
"For those administrators who wait for a monthly maintenance window for their patching needs, this month is going to be quite a large month combining all of the Microsoft and non-Microsoft security bulletins released since the last Patch Tuesday," he said.