Security Updates for Microsoft Windows, Java

Microsoft today issued software updates to patch at least 19 security holes in Windows, including three flaws that earned the company’s most serious “critical” rating. Separately, Oracle released a security update that fixes several issues in its Java software.

The most talked-about vulnerability fixed in December’s patch batch is a critical flaw in all supported versions of Windows that’s been exploited for at least the past two months (and probably much longer) by the Duqu Trojan, a sophisticated information-stealer that experts say was an espionage tool constructed to extract sensitive data from industrial control systems.

The other two critical updates fix bugs in ActiveX and Windows Media Player. The remaining patches address less severe but still dangerous security holes in Windows, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Publisher. A more detailed breakdown of this month’s updates is available here. Patches are available via Windows Update.

In other patch news, Oracle has released yet another update to its Java software. Oracle released updates to Java versions 6 and 7, but only the Java 6 Update 30 includes security fixes. It appears from a close examination of Oracle’s unbelievably labyrinthine security advisories that Update 30 addresses at least six separate security issues. Anyone who wants to read more about the specific details of the flaws fixed in this update without having wade through countless advisories can do so by clicking this link. While none of the flaws look especially bad, if you are using Java it’s time to either update it or dump it (I continually urge readers to do the latter). Updates are available from the Java console (available through the Windows Control Panel).

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