The first Patch Tuesday of the new year doesn’t fail to surprise us at all. Keeping the trend intact, January 2023’s Patch Tuesday lists fixes for 98 vulnerabilities, including one zero day. With the zero-day vulnerability being actively exploited, admins need to implement these patches as soon as possible.  

After an initial discussion about this month’s updates, we’ll offer our advice for devising a plan to handle patch management in a hybrid work environment. You can also register for our free Patch Tuesday webinar and listen to our experts break down Patch Tuesday updates in detail.  

What is Patch Tuesday?  

Patch Tuesday falls on the second Tuesday of every month. On this day, Microsoft releases security and non-security updates for its operating system and other related applications. Since Microsoft has upheld this process of releasing updates in a periodic manner, IT admins expect these updates and have time to gear up for them.

Why is Patch Tuesday important?  

Important security updates and patches to fix critical bugs or vulnerabilities are released on Patch Tuesday. Usually zero-day vulnerabilities are also fixed during Patch Tuesday unless the vulnerability is critical and highly exploited, in which case an out-of-band security update is released to address that particular vulnerability.

January 2023 Patch Tuesday: Security updates lineup  

Security updates were released for the following products, features, and roles:

  • 3D Builder

  • Visual Studio Code

  • Windows Virtual Registry Provider

  • Windows Local Session Manager (LSM)

  • Windows Ancillary Function Driver for WinSock

  • Windows Overlay Filter

  • Windows Print Spooler Components

  • Microsoft Exchange Server

  • Windows Smart Card

  • Windows IKE Extension

  • Windows Remote Access Service L2TP Driver

  • Windows Kernel

  • Windows Management Instrumentation

  • Windows Backup Engine

  • Windows NTLM

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint

  • Microsoft Office Visio

  • Microsoft Bluetooth Driver

  • Microsoft Office

  • Windows Bind Filter Driver

  • Windows ODBC Driver

  • Windows Cryptographic Services

  • Microsoft Local Security Authority Server (lsasrv)

  • Windows Credential Manager

  • Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

  • Windows DWM Core Library

  • Windows Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol

  • Microsoft WDAC OLE DB provider for SQL

  • Microsoft Graphics Component

  • Windows Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol

  • Windows LDAP – Lightweight Directory Access Protocol

  • Windows ALPC

  • Windows BitLocker

  • Windows Boot Manager

  • Windows Error Reporting

  • Windows Workstation Service

  • Windows Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)

  • Windows Internet Key Exchange (IKE) Protocol

  • Windows Installer

  • Windows Task Scheduler

  • Windows Authentication Methods

  • .NET Core

  • Microsoft Message Queuing

  • Windows Event Tracing

  • Azure Service Fabric Container

  • Windows iSCSI

  • Windows RPC API

  • Windows Local Security Authority (LSA)

  • Windows Certificates

Learn more in the MSRC’s release notes.

One zero-day vulnerability patched  

 January’s Patch Tuesday comes with an update for an actively exploited zero-day vulnerability.

CVE-2023-21674 – Windows Advanced Local Procedure Call (ALPC) Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability  

As per Microsoft, “This vulnerability could lead to a browser sandbox escape.” In addition, the MSRC also states that an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain SYSTEM privileges.

While the vulnerability is being actively exploited, it hasn’t been publicly disclosed yet.

Third-party updates released after last month’s Patch Tuesday  

Third-party vendors such as Citrix, Fortinet, Adobe, Cisco, Intel, Synology and SAP released updates in January 2023.

Best practices to handle patch management in a hybrid work environment  

Most organizations have opted to embrace remote work even after they have been cleared to return to the office. This decision poses various challenges to IT admins, especially in terms of managing and securing distributed endpoints.

Here are a few pointers to simplify the process of remote patching:

  • Disable automatic updates because one faulty patch could bring down the whole system. IT admins can educate end users on how to disable automatic updates on their machines. Patch Manager Plus and Endpoint Central also have a dedicated patch, 105427, that can be deployed to endpoints to ensure that automatic updates are disabled.

  • Create a restore point—a backup or image that captures the state of the machines—before deploying big updates like those from Patch Tuesday.

  • Establish a patching schedule and keep end users informed about it. It is recommended to set up a time for deploying patches and rebooting systems. Let end users know what needs to be done on their end for trouble-free patching.

  • Test the patches on a pilot group of systems before deploying them to the production environment. This will ensure that the patches do not interfere with the workings of other applications.

  • Since many users are working from home, they all might be working different hours; in this case, you can allow end users to skip deployment and scheduled reboots. This will give them the liberty to install updates at their convenience and avoid disrupting their work. Our patch management products come with options for user-defined deployment and reboot.

  • Most organizations are deploying patches using a VPN. To stop patch tasks from eating up your VPN bandwidth, install Critical patches and security updates first. You might want to hold off on deploying feature packs and cumulative updates since they are bulky updates and consume a lot of bandwidth.

  • Schedule the non-security updates and security updates that are not rated Critical to be deployed after Patch Tuesday, such as during the third or fourth week of the month. You can also choose to decline certain updates if you feel they are not required in your environment.

  • Run patch reports to get a detailed view of the health status of your endpoints.

  • For machines belonging to users returning to the office after working remotely, check if they are compliant with your security policies. If not, quarantine them.

  • Install the latest updates and feature packs before deeming your back-to-office machines fit for production.

  • Take inventory of and remove apps that are now obsolete for your back-to-office machines, like remote collaboration software.

With Endpoint Central or Patch Manager Plus, you can completely automate the entire process of patch management, from testing patches to deploying them. You can also tailor patch tasks according to your current needs. For a hands-on experience with either of these products, try a free, 30-day trial and keep thousands of applications patched and secure.

Want to learn more about Patch Tuesday updates? Join our experts as they break down this month’s Patch Tuesday updates and offer in-depth analysis. You can also ask our experts questions and get answers to all your Patch Tuesday questions. Register for our free Patch Tuesday webinar.

Ready, get set, patch!