Microsoft today said it will deliver six security updates on Tuesday, including one that will patch a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE) the company admitted only last week.
The updates will patch a total of 12 flaws in Windows, IE and Microsoft Office, the company said in a follow-up entry to its security response centre's blog .
At the top of the patch list, even Microsoft's own, will be an update for IE 5.01, IE6, IE7 and IE8 that has been pegged as "critical", the firm's highest severity rating in its four-step scoring system.
The update will address an IE zero-day vulnerability that Microsoft confirmed 23 November in a security advisory. "I want to point out that Internet Explorer 8 is not affected on any platform and that running Protected Mode in Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista mitigates this issue," said Jerry Bryant, a spokesman for the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), in a blog post announcing the advisory last week.
Microsoft's advisory was its reaction to proof-of-concept attack code that had gone public several days before, when it was posted to the popular Bugtraq security mailing list. The sample code exploited a flaw in IE's layout parser, and could be used to hijack fully-patched Windows machines.
Next Tuesday's update, however, will quash bugs in all still-supported versions of IE, not just IE6 and IE7, a fact Microsoft confirmed today . "We want to make customers aware that we will be addressing the vulnerability discussed in Security Advisory 977981 in the IE bulletin on Tuesday," Bryant said in another blog post.
The advisory Bryant called out was the one Microsoft issued last week. "We know that customers are concerned about this issue and we are also aware that Proof of Concept (PoC) code is available publicly."
Microsoft's advance notification spelled out the significance of the problem with IE: All versions of its browser contain one or more flaws when run on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and even Windows 7. Only the company's newest server products -- Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 -- are somewhat safer.