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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
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

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

    Ashdown Group: European Recruitment Manager - Cheshire - up to £48,000

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus and benefits: Ashdown Group: European Recrui...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence