Despite how it might seem at times, flawed security updates are relatively rare. When there is a problem, Microsoft typically releases an update for the update.
For example, this past December there was a bug in the patch Microsoft released to fix a font vulnerability. In this special New Year’s edition of Patch Watch, I review three problem updates released in December.
Some side effects from fixing vulnerable fonts
For every Patch Watch edition, I install offered updates on my systems and look for any problems the patches might cause. However, if a patch works on my PCs, there is no guarantee it’ll be problem-free on every PC — there’s a huge variety of PC configurations. The patches in MS12-078, for example, were intended to fix a vulnerability in TrueType and OpenType font files. Unfortunately, installing KB 2753842 had the unforeseen side effect of making fonts disappear in a few major applications such as PowerPoint, CorelDRAW, and other apps commonly used in the printing industry.
Root certificates causing headaches for admins
Microsoft’s Windows root-certificate updating process is confusing and often makes me nervous. Too often, we must trust that a root-cert update won’t have long-term consequences to our systems and networks. KB 931125, the December 2012 root-cert update for Windows XP, is a recent example of some unintended consequences — especially for server admins using Network Policy Server (NPS) to protect their systems.
NPS is a technology that lets admins set minimum standards for PCs that connect to a network. These standards can include installed patch levels, browsers, antivirus software, and more. You’ll find NPS typically deployed on larger networks.
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