This week at the USENIX Enigma 2016 Security conference the final talk was given by Rob Joyce, Chief of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO). TAO is the offensive unit of the NSA that got much coverage following the public disclosure of internal NSA documents by Edward Snowden, with some of their arsenal of exploitation tools documented.
Oracle has published their Critical Patch Update (CPU) for January 2016. The Oracle CPU is quarterly and addresses the flaws in large Oracle’s product line, including their core product the relational database, but also in a large number of acquisitions like Solaris, MySQL, Java and many of the end-user products, such as JDEdwards ERP, Peoplesoft and CRM.
Update: Kaspersky who is credited with finding MS16-006,the critical Silverlight vulnerability just published their story on how the bug was found. Very interesting, has to do with the Hacking Team breach and coding "standards" – take a look at their blog post for more info. They also made clear that this vulnerability is under attack in the wild and that we are looking at a true 0-day here. This changes our priorities – we now put MS16-006 at the top of our list. Take a look at your installations, see if you have Silverlight installed and address the flaw as soon as possible.
Original: The first Patch Tuesday of 2016 turns out to be low in numbers, but broad and packing quite a punch: six of the nine bulletins are rated critical, including the Windows Kernel and Office bulletins. In addition some rather important products are going End-of-Life and get their last patch update today. Microsoft is retiring support for all older browsers on each platform and will from here on only maintain the newest browser on each version of the OS.
Update: Qualys QID is 124421: Adobe Flash Player and AIR Security Update (APSB16-01).
Original: Adobe issued today their last update for 2015 for its Flash player. It addresses nineteen vulnerabilities and was released out of band because one of them (CVE-2015-8651) is under attack in the wild. At this point attacks are limited to special targets. The update is numbered APSB16-01, not APSB15-33 as expected, most likely because it is basically the planned January 2016 update, anticipated due to the circumstances.
As with all 0-days fixes this one deserves special attention and a quick turnaround.
There we are: the last Patch Tuesday of 2015. It turns out to be about average, with maybe a bit more severity in the bulletins than usually. We have eight critical bulletins in the total 12, including one that fixes a 0-day vulnerability, currently in use by attackers to escalate privileges in Windows. 0-days used to be very rare occasions, but this year they have become almost mainstream. After all the year started off with a string of 0-days in Adobe Flash and since then we have seen almost every month a patch for a vulnerability that is already under attack. Definitely a sign of the increasing technical capabilities that attackers are wielding and a reminder that IT Managers should not only patch their systems promptly, but also look for additional robustness. Your list of things to look at in 2016 should include investigation of minimal software installs with the least features enabled, plus an additional piece software such as EMET that enhances robustness.
And we are back to normal for Patch Tuesday November 2015. Twelve bulletins that cover a wide mix of products from Internet Explorer (MS15-112) to Skype (MS15-123). Last month’s lower number of six bulletins was an anomaly caused by, maybe, the summer vacation? What is not an anomaly but the product of serious security engineering is the pronounced difference between Internet Explorer and Edge patches.