Windows 8 has been available for two weeks, which means its time for the operating system to complete its next rite of passage: Microsoft security updates.
Next week’s Patch Tuesday includes three bulletins for Windows 8, along with two for Windows RT. All three for Windows 8 are rated “Critical,” meaning that IT administrators should apply the update with all due haste; for Windows RT, one bulletin is “Critical” while another is rated “Important,” i.e. apply the update at the earliest opportunity. (Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 for devices running ARM-based processors, which currently power the majority of tablets.)
The Patch Tuesday updates will also fix vulnerabilities in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Microsoft Office.
In keeping with virtually every single Patch Tuesday update in Microsoft’s history, the company is fairly tight-lipped about the nature of the vulnerabilities in question—no sense in giving bad actors too much information before the patch is out in the ecosystem.
But one wonders if the Windows 8 and Windows RT patches will address some of the issues discovered by IT security company Bitdefender, which announced Nov. 9 that the next-generation operating system was vulnerable to roughly 15 percent of common malware. “As a means of protecting a computer from viruses, data theft and other type of malware, Windows Defender is better than nothing,” Bitdefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi wrote in a Nov. 9 statement. “But it’s not a whole lot better. Most of the popular antivirus can do better.” (It must be noted that Bitdefender offers products for increasing Windows 8 security, so it’s in their interest to highlight any potential vulnerabilities.)
Windows Defender is bundled with all flavors of Windows 8. It’s essentially a rebadged version of Microsoft’s Security Essentials anti-malware scanner. Users who want to add more robust anti-malware solutions can easily uninstall it.
Aryeh Goretsky, distinguished researcher at anti-malware vendor ESET and a member of its Zeroday Emergency Response Team, recently told SlashBI that Windows 8 features tightened cyber-security—but there’s a catch.
“Windows 8 is, in our opinion, the most secure version of Microsoft Windows to date,” he said. “That does not, however, mean that it is invulnerable to all threats. If there is one thing we have seen time and time again, it is that those who create malware adapt it to take advantage of technologies as they come into the mainstream.”