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Massive March Patch Tuesday relaxes antivirus restrictions, but there are problems

On a scale from 1 to 10, Microsoft in March has ratcheted the patching pace up to 11. The good news is that there are no known exploits for any of the “Critical” rated security holes. (Worth repeating: There are still no known exploits for Meltdown or Spectre.) The bad news? Reports of another forced upgrade to Win10 Fall Creators Update. Still waiting for confirmation on that one.

By the numbers

As usual, Martin Binkmann on ghacks.net, has the best summary:

  • Windows 7: 21 vulnerabilities, of which 21 are rated important
  • Windows 8.1: 20 vulnerabilities, of which 20 are rated important
  • Windows 10 version 1607: 29 vulnerabilities, of which 29 are rated important
  • Windows 10 version 1703: 28 vulnerabilities, of which 28 are rated important
  • Windows 10 version 1709: 24 vulnerabilities, of which 24 are rated important
  • Windows Server 2008: 21 vulnerabilities, of which 21 are rated important
  • Windows Server 2008 R2: 22 vulnerabilities, of which 22 are rated important
  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2: 21 vulnerabilities, of which 21 are rated important
  • Windows Server 2016: 29 vulnerabilities, of which 29 are rated important
  • Internet Explorer 11: 7 vulnerabilities, 2 critical, 5 important
  • Microsoft Edge: 16 vulnerabilities, 12 critical, 4 important

Microsoft lists 157 updates. If you break those down into individual patches for specific platforms, the total damage comes to 1,352 rubber-meets-the-road patches. Looks like patching is set to become Microsoft’s next billion-dollar business.

Johannes Ullrich at the SANS Internet Storm Center lists the specific fixed security holes by CVE number, confirming that two of the CVEs have been disclosed to the world, but none of them have been exploited — and the two disclosed CVEs are listed as “Severity: Important” which means that they really aren’t all that important.

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