Tuesday 13 January 2015

Microsoft Changes is Patch Communication Strategy

As I have mentioned in this blog before, Microsoft is changing how it views and communicates with the world. And, given the recent challenges in communicating Patches with its Patch Tuesday release cycle (Microsoft holds back two security bulletins), it appears that Microsoft has decided how it communicates what patches are going to be released through the (now defunct) Advance Notification Strategy (ANS).

The ANS was a Patch Tuesday preview that was published initially one week in advance of the actual security update and patch release process. The ANS contained a basic list of the number of patches and what platforms would be affected by the updates. Recently (the past four months), this preview period was shortened to four days as the ANS was published on a Friday, rather than a week prior Tuesday.  I found this a useful service, but apparently the feedback that Microsoft received indicated otherwise as you can see with Chris Betz's latest blog posting;

"We are making changes to how we distribute ANS to customers. Moving forward, we will provide ANS information directly to Premier customers and current organizations involved in our security programs, and will no longer make this information broadly available through a blog post and web page."

Yes, this means no more Advance Notification Service. Actually, premier customers can still access this service and Microsoft has created a new web-based dashboard service for a customized patch view called myBulletins. In addition, the Microsoft Deployment Priority matrix has been discontinued and the Exploitability Index has been upgraded to include more threat scenarios.

I found the Advance Notification Service really helpful as it allowed me to plan the week. Finding out if you had to deal with four or fourteen patches a few days in advance is helpful - but, maybe it was a real pain for Microsoft. I have already had a bit of play with the myBulletin service and have found it .... well, pretty incomprehensible. As I have to cover most Microsoft products (like all my peers) the dash board listed forty-five pages worth of information. Hmmm...

I will see how this Patch Tuesday goes and report back...

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