Microsoft issues its biggest-ever security fix

Microsoft issued its biggest-ever security fix, including repairs to its ubiquitous Windows operating system and Internet browser for flaws that could let hackers take control of a PC.

The new patches aim to fix a number of vulnerabilities including the notorious Stuxnet virus that attacked an Iranian nuclear power plant and other industrial control systems around the world.



Microsoft said four of the new patches - software updates that write over glitches - were of the highest priority and should be deployed immediately to protect users from potential criminal attacks on the Windows operating systems.



Microsoft said it also repaired other less serious security weaknesses in Windows, along with security problems in its widely used Office software for PCs and Microsoft Server software for business computers.



Microsoft released 16 security patches to address 49 problems in its products, many of which were discovered by outside researchers who seek out such vulnerabilities to win cash bounties as well as notoriety for their technical prowess.



"This is a huge jump," said Amol Sarwate, a research manager with computer security provider Qualys Inc. "I think the reason for it is that more and more people are out there looking for vulnerabilities."



The geeks who report such vulnerabilities to software makers are known as "white hat" hackers. Sarwate warned that there are also plenty of "black hats," or criminal hackers who look for vulnerabilities in software that they can exploit to launch attacks on computer systems.



Indeed, the world's biggest software maker said that the patches released on Tuesday include software to fix a vulnerability exploited by the Stuxnet virus - a malicious program that attacks PCs used to run power plants and other infrastructure running Siemens industrial control systems.



The virus, which infected computers at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, was discovered over the summer. Security research Symantec said that it detected the highest concentration of the virus on computer systems in Iran, though it was also spotted in Indonesia, India, the United States, Australia, Britain, Malaysia and Pakistan.



So far Microsoft has patched three of the four vulnerabilities exploited by Stuxnet's unknown creators.



The total of 49 vulnerabilities exceeds the previous record of 34, which was set in October 2009 and matched in June and August of this year.



The constant patching of PCs is a time-consuming process for corporate users, who need to test the fixes before they deploy them to make sure they do not cause machines to crash because of compatibility problems with existing software.

News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

    £30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

    £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

    Associate Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    Associate Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busine...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn