Adobe and Microsoft on Tuesday each released security updates for software installed on hundreds of millions of devices. Adobe issued an update for Flash Player and for Acrobat/Reader. Microsoft released just four updates to plug some 15 security holes in Windows and related software.
Microsoft’s batch includes updates for Windows, Office and Microsoft Edge (Redmond’s replacement for Internet Explorer). Also interesting is that January 2017 is the last month Microsoft plans to publish individual bulletins for each patch. From now on, some of the data points currently in the individual updates will be lumped into a “Security Updates Guide” published with each Patch Tuesday.
This change mirrors a shift in the way Microsoft is deploying updates. Last year Microsoft stopped making individual security updates available for home users, giving those users instead a single monthly security rollup that includes all available security updates.
Windows users and anyone else with Flash installed will need to make sure that Adobe Flash Player is updated (or suitably bludgeoned, more on that in a bit). Adobe’s Flash update addresses 13 flaws in the widely-installed browser plugin. The patch brings Flash to v. 188.8.131.52 for Windows, Mac and Linux users alike.
If you have Flash installed, you should update, hobble or remove Flash as soon as possible. To see which version of Flash your browser may have installed, check out this page. But the smartest option is probably to ditch the program once and for all and significantly increase the security of your system in the process. An extremely powerful and buggy program that binds itself to the browser, Flash is a favorite target of attackers and malware. For some ideas about how to hobble or do without Flash (as well as slightly less radical solutions) check out A Month Without Adobe Flash Player.
If you choose to keep and update Flash, please do it today. The most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.).
Chrome and IE should auto-install the latest Flash version on browser restart (users may need to manually check for updates in and/or restart the browser to get the latest Flash version). My version of Chrome says it’s the latest one (55.0.2883.87) but the Chrome Releases blog says the latest stable version — 55.0.2883.105 includes the Flash fixes (among other security fixes for Chrome), which isn’t yet being offered. Adobe’s Web site tells me my Flash version is 184.108.40.206 (not the latest).
When in doubt with Chrome, click the vertical three dot icon to the right of the URL bar, select “Help,” then “About Chrome”: If there is an update available, Chrome should install it then. In either case, be sure to restart the browser after installing an update (if it doesn’t do that for you).