In 2015, your Windows PC can be owned by opening a spreadsheet

Patch your Microsoft and Adobe software today – like, right now

Microsoft and Adobe have pushed out their scheduled monthly security updates, with familiar names like IE and Flash once again getting critical fixes.

For Redmond, the October update brings fixes for 33 CVE-listed security vulnerabilities. The updates include a cumulative fix for Internet Explorer and patches to address critical flaws in Windows VBScript/Jscript for Windows Vista/Server 2008 and Windows Shell. Office, the Windows kernel, and Windows Edge also received fixes.

The full list of October fixes from Microsoft:

  • MS15-106 A cumulative fix for 14 CVE-listed flaws in Internet Explorer. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by webpages to hijack PCs.
  • MS15-107 Cumulative fix for Microsoft Edge, two CVE-listed flaws patched: one, a cross-site-scripting protection bypass, and the other an information disclosure bug that could be used to further attack the computer system.
  • MS15-108 Four CVE-listed flaws in VBScript and JScript in IE versions 7 through 11. Specially crafted webpages can execute code outside the aforementioned scripting engines, and do what they like to the system as the logged-in user.
  • MS15-109 Two CVE-listed flaws in Windows Shell. "The vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted toolbar object in Windows or an attacker convinces a user to view specially crafted content online," Microsoft explained in its advisory.
  • MS15-110 Three CVE-listed vulnerabilities in Excel, and Sharepoint Server. Opening a malicious spreadsheet can trigger the execution of code within the document to take over the PC as the logged-in user.
  • MS15-111 Five CVE-listed flaws in the Windows kernel, the worst of which can be exploited by software to gain administrator access on a system.

For users running Windows Update, the October updates should download and install automatically. The Office update will also address flaws in Excel for Mac 2011 and 2016, so OS X Office users should also check for and install updates.

For those not automatically downloading and installing their Microsoft security fixes, Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of security company Qualys, said that the Internet Explorer patch should be installed as a first priority, followed by the Office Excel and Windows Shell patches.

Adobe, meanwhile, has released its own monthly update addressing 56 CVE-listed vulnerabilities in Acrobat and Reader and another 13 flaws in Flash Player for Windows, OS X, Android, and iOS.

Adobe Air Desktop Runtime, SDK, and Compiler should also be patched on Windows, Macintosh, Android, and iOS.

Kandek says users and administrators should prioritize the Flash update over Reader and Acrobat.

"For Flash we recommend patching immediately," said Kandek.

"On the other hand Adobe's Sandbox has been providing additional hardening to its PDF Reader and it has been over a year since we have seen PDF files used in exploits in the wild." ®

PS: Don't forget to check to see if your Microsoft Windows patches include KB3035583, KB3083710 and possibly others, which will try to get you to install Windows 10 by stealth.

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