Microsoft releases two emergency Windows patches

The Windows 10 operating system shown on a portion of the display of a laptop

Microsoft has pushed out emergency out-of-band patches for two remote code execution flaws only days after its latest wave of Patch Tuesday bug fixes.

Both the Windows Codecs Library and Visual Studio Code can be targeted by hackers who can exploit these vulnerabilities to execute arbitrary code remotely and potentially take control of the affected system.

The first vulnerability, tagged CVE-2020-17022, is a flaw that exists in the way the Windows Codecs Library handles objects in memory. Successful exploitation requires a programme processes a specially crafted malicious image file.

The second, meanwhile, tagged CVE-2020-17033, is triggered when a user is tricked into opening a malicious ‘package.json’ file. An attacker would need to convince a target to clone a repository and open it in Visual Studio Code, before attacker-specified code would execute when the target opens the malicious ‘package.json’ file.

Attackers can successfully exploit this bug to take control of targeted systems if users with administrative rights are logged on. From there, an unauthorised user could install programmes, view, change or delete data, or even create new accounts with full user rights.

Both patches have been released less than a week after Microsoft rolled out its routine Patch Tuesday wave of updates, in which patches and fixes are accumulated and pushed out in a single release.

The most serious of the bugs fixed was a critical ‘wormable’ flaw in the TCP/IP component of Windows 10, tagged CVE-2020-16898 and rated 9.8 on the CVSS scale, also a remote code execution vulnerability in nature.


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The two additional bug fixes means these remote code execution flaws are certainly serious enough, and pose enough of an active threat to users, to warrant an out-of-band release.

The firm has previously released emergency fixes for newly detected flaws when deemed necessary, including in July 2020 when it released emergency fixes for another two remote code execution flaws. These issues affected codecs in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019, and would have allowed hackers to compromise a targeted system.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.