Microsoft has wrapped up 2010 with a real bang as far as the volume of security vulnerabilities goes.

The company released no less than 17 security bulletins in December 2010, patching no less than 40 vulnerabilities.

However, just a couple of the patch packages are rated Critical, which means that the security holes they’re designed to plug can allow attackers to execute code remotely on a vulnerable computer and gain control over the machine.

The updates resolve security flaws in a range of products, including Office, Windows, Internet Explorer, SharePoint Server and Exchange.

Jerry Bryant, group manager, response communications, Microsoft was kind enough to provide a complete list with all the security bulletins issued by the software giant this month, which customers will be able to find below. More »

A free security tool is slaughtering the Zbot botnet, having cleaned the malware responsible for harvesting zombie computers from almost 280,000 machines.

In just a few days, MSRT has delivered a heavy blow to the network of zombie computers, with a few hundred thousand PCs having been cleaned.

MSRT was refreshed and offered to all Windows users via Windows Update on October 12, as a part of the company’s monthly release of security bulletins.

“Since the release of MSRT on Tuesday we have removed Zbot 281,491 times from 274,873 computers and is the #1 family of malware removed (which is not uncommon the month a family is added),” revealed Microsoft’s Jeff Williams. More »

Microsoft is gearing up to release patches for a record number of security vulnerabilities affecting a range of its products, including the latest iteration of Windows and Office.

The Redmond company will plug almost 50 security holes in Windows and Internet Explorer, as well as in the Office productivity suite and the .NET Framework.

The security bulletins will be released next week, on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 as a part of the software giant’s patch cycle.

“This month as part of our predictable security update process we are releasing 16 comprehensive bulletins addressing 49 vulnerabilities,” revealed Carlene Chmaj, Microsoft Security Response Senior Communications Manager. More »

Users running the latest iteration of Windows might experience a Black Screen when they attempt to unlock their machine in certain conditions, Microsoft warned.

According to the Redmond company, the issue impacts not only Windows 7 customers, but also those leveraging Windows Vista.

The problem is not likely to affect end users, since the PCs affected need to feature special security configuration specific of computer running in enterprise environments.

First off, both Vista and Windows 7 computers need to be running the “Aero” graphics mode.

In addition, the machines also have to sport some extra security restrictions as well as added security software. Microsoft explained that these configurations are often used by enterprises, or are being mandated by DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) or DoD (Department of Defense) requirements. More »

Although Microsoft doesn’t normally deliver support for pre-release software, there are exceptions to this rule, and an update designed to resolve issues related to Taskbar functionality in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is an illustrative example in this regard.

The Redmond company also offers support for pre-RTM products when it comes down to patching Critical security vulnerabilities that would put users at risk from attacks and exploits.

However, the update released in the second half of August 2010 is not intended to patch a security flaw.

Instead “this update addresses an issue in which the thumbnail controls for some applications are not displayed on the taskbar. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system,” Microsoft stated.

According to the little information provided by the software giant, the refresh is capable of enabling “the thumbnail controls of certain applications to be displayed correctly on the taskbar in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2.”

And although the company doesn’t mention Windows 7 SP1 Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta in the Knowledge Base article, the releases on the Microsoft Download Center reveal that early adopters running the public Beta of the first upgrade for the two platforms should also deploy the update.

Windows 7 SP1 Beta was released to testers in the first half of July 2010, and continues to be available for download to the public.

As it released Windows 7 SP1 Beta, Microsoft made it clear that it planned to wrap up and deliver the RTM bits of the service pack in the first half of 2011, most probably in the first quarter of next year, rather than by the end of 2010, as previously speculated.

Following the release of Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800, work on the upgrade continued, with Microsoft having reportedly released a new interim version of the service pack to TAP and OEMs.

The software giant confirmed that Windows 7 SP1 Beta Refresh Build 7601.17077 indeed shipped to a select pool of testers.

Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800 is available for download here.

Here are the download links for KB2259539:

All supported x86-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

All supported IA-64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2