March 2012 Microsoft Black Tuesday

Published: 2012-03-13
Last Updated: 2012-03-13 20:10:36 UTC
by Lenny Zeltser (Version: 1)
2 comment(s)

Overview of the March 2012 Microsoft patches and their status.

# Affected Contra Indications - KB Known Exploits Microsoft rating(**) ISC rating(*)
clients servers
MS12-017 Vulnerability in DNS Server Could Allow Denial of Service
DNS Server
KB 2647170 no. Severity:Important
Exploitability: Likely
N/A Important
MS12-018 Vulnerability in Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers Could Allow Elevation of Privilege
Kernel-Mode Drivers
KB 2641653 no. Severity:Important
Exploitability: Difficult
Important Important
MS12-019 Vulnerability in DirectWrite Could Allow Denial of Service
KB 2665364 no. Severity:Important
Exploitability: Unknown
Important Less Urgent
MS12-020 Vulnerabilities in Remote Desktop Could Allow Remote Code Execution
Remote Desktop
KB 2671387 no. Severity:Critical
Exploitability: Likely
Critical PATCH NOW
MS12-021 Vulnerability in Visual Studio Could Allow Elevation of Privilege
Visual Studio
KB 2651019 no. Severity:Important
Exploitability: Likely
Important N/A
MS12-022 Vulnerability in Expression Design Could Allow Remote Code Execution
Expression Design
KB 2651018 no. Severity:Important
Exploitability: Likely
Important N/A
We will update issues on this page for about a week or so as they evolve.
We appreciate updates
US based customers can call Microsoft for free patch related support on 1-866-PCSAFETY
(*): ISC rating
  • We use 4 levels:
    • PATCH NOW: Typically used where we see immediate danger of exploitation. Typical environments will want to deploy these patches ASAP. Workarounds are typically not accepted by users or are not possible. This rating is often used when typical deployments make it vulnerable and exploits are being used or easy to obtain or make.
    • Critical: Anything that needs little to become "interesting" for the dark side. Best approach is to test and deploy ASAP. Workarounds can give more time to test.
    • Important: Things where more testing and other measures can help.
    • Less Urgent: Typically we expect the impact if left unpatched to be not that big a deal in the short term. Do not forget them however.
  • The difference between the client and server rating is based on how you use the affected machine. We take into account the typical client and server deployment in the usage of the machine and the common measures people typically have in place already. Measures we presume are simple best practices for servers such as not using outlook, MSIE, word etc. to do traditional office or leisure work.
  • The rating is not a risk analysis as such. It is a rating of importance of the vulnerability and the perceived or even predicted threat for affected systems. The rating does not account for the number of affected systems there are. It is for an affected system in a typical worst-case role.
  • Only the organization itself is in a position to do a full risk analysis involving the presence (or lack of) affected systems, the actually implemented measures, the impact on their operation and the value of the assets involved.
  • All patches released by a vendor are important enough to have a close look if you use the affected systems. There is little incentive for vendors to publicize patches that do not have some form of risk to them.

(**): The exploitability rating we show is the worst of them all due to the too large number of ratings Microsoft assigns to some of the patches.

Lenny Zeltser

2 comment(s)


Just a note, KB2639308 has also started to be pushed put automatically as "important". This is a security design change. It introduces the an option for programs to force other programs to be run with ASLR, regardless of whether the second program has requested it. This is done by using IFEOs.

If you're administering Windows desktops, it looks like it will be worth learning about what IFEOs are and how they are used!

Details on this design change at at

But basically, as far as I can tell this looks like EMET ( will shortly be updated to allow you to force ASLR in legacy applications using this method.
It is being used by Internet Explorer 10.

It could be useful for any application that allows third party add-ons.

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