In its first "Patch Tuesday" of the year, Microsoft is releasing seven security bulletins to address software glitches an attacker could exploit to remotely take over infected Windows systems.
The bugs, one of which is deemed "critical" (Microsoft's highest severity level), affect Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server versions 2008 and 2003, Microsoft wrote on its TechNet blog. The remaining six bulletins are all classified as "important," meaning the vulnerability could be targeted to compromise the "confidentiality, integrity, or availability of users' data."
Microsoft will also issue an updated version of its Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. All seven bulletins will be available tomorrow (Jan. 10) from Microsoft's website.
Microsoft announced it is rolling out a Windows Phone security update to fix flaws in the mobile operating system. The update includes fixes for six problems, including one that causes the touch screen to disappear when typing a message, and a syncing issue with Google mail, Samantha Murphy from Mashable reported. Windows Phone users will also now be able to opt-in to sending their anonymized information to local Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers rather than have the phone automatically send the data.
Also strengthening its software is Adobe, which on Jan. 10 will release critical updates for Adobe Reader X and Adobe Acrobat X, both for Windows and Mac, and Google, which last week released Chrome version 16.0.9212.75, fixing three high-priority bugs in the Web browser.
Looking ahead, Google has released a beta version of the next major version of the browser, Chrome 17. Announced on Jan. 5, Chrome 17 will include a "pre-rendering" feature that expedites the Web page loading process by rendering a page "you're very likely to visit" based on the URL you just typed.
Chrome 17 will also warn users before they download potentially dangerous files from sites known to be malicious. In announcing the enhanced security features, Google took the opportunity to state that no matter what safety measures a browser includes, safe Web surfing hinges on the common sense of the person doing the browsing, not the browser itself.
"Remember," Google added, "no technical mechanism can ever protect you completely from malicious downloads. You should always be careful about which files you download and consider the reputation of their source."