Microsoft has issued 11 security updates, fixing critical vulnerabilities in its Windows and Office software.
Six of the updates are for Windows, including a patch for a dangerous bug in the operating system's graphical user interface which is currently being targeted by attackers. Four updates are for Office, and the final update is for the .Net framework, considered to be less severe than the worst of the Windows and Office bugs.
The patches were released today as part of Microsoft's regular monthly security update cycle. Microsoft's security bulletins on these patches can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms06-oct.mspx
Six of the 11 updates are rated critical, the most serious rating given by Microsoft.
The most publicised of these flaws is a bug in an ActiveX control called WebViewFolderIcon, which is used by the Windows' graphical user interface. This vulnerability was first disclosed in July, but hackers began exploiting it late last month after exploit code taking advantage of it was added to the Metasploit hacking tool.
Microsoft Office has also been the target of a number of extremely limited attacks over the past few months, and four updates have been released that address critical flaws in PowerPoint, Excel and Word, and the Office suite itself. All of these flaws could be exploited by an attacker to run unauthorised software on a victim's computer, Microsoft said.
The sixth critical update fixes two vulnerabilities in the XML (Extensible Markup Language) parser used by Windows.
Tuesday also marked the end of the line for Windows XP Service Pack 1, which will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Microsoft's advisory on this issue can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifean19