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Critical Windows and Office Fixes Coming Tuesday

Microsoft plans to release four software fixes on Tuesday in its July security update.

Three fixes are considered "critical" for IT pros to patch, while one is deemed "important," according to Microsoft's July advance notice. All of the fixes aim to address remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in Windows and Microsoft Office.

Critical Fixes
Two of the three critical security bulletins will close previously announced security advisories.

The first critical fix will resolve issues outlined in a June security advisory, addressing a vulnerability in the Windows Help and Support Center. It applies to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 systems, but the severity rating is "low" for Windows Server 2003.

The second critical fix covers issues described in this May security advisory dealing with a bug in Windows 7's canonical display driver. This security bulletin covers Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 systems.

Critical fix No. 3 addresses security issues in the Microsoft Office Access database system. It applies to the following Office versions: Office XP Service Pack 3, Office 2003 SP3, 2007 Microsoft Office System SP1 and 2007 Microsoft Office System SP2. Specifically, the fix applies to vulnerabilities in Access 2003 and Access 2007.

The first two critical vulnerabilities likely will have the broadest impact on IT patch activity, according to Don Leatham, senior director of solutions and strategy at Lumension.

"Bulletins 1 and 2 both affect Microsoft Windows and are critical, as the vulnerabilities addressed could allow for remote code execution, typically the most feared exploit type," Leatham said. "While Bulletin 3 is rated critical, fortunately its impact will be limited to only those organizations that have built applications and processes using Microsoft Access."

Important Fix
The lone important fix appears to be a comprehensive security update for Microsoft Outlook. The bulletin covers Microsoft Office Outlook 2002, Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2007.

Leatham and other security experts believe this patch to be of particular concern as vulnerabilities in e-mail clients are always to be taken seriously.

In all, every patch in the July security rollout may require a restart. Meanwhile those interested in nonsecurity releases through Windows Update and Microsoft Update can check out this Knowledge Base article.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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