January 2024 Patch Tuesday forecast: A Focus on Printing

Update: January 9, 15:08 ET – January 2024 Patch Tuesday is now live: Microsoft fixes critical flaws in Windows Kerberos, Hyper-V (CVE-2024-20674, CVE-2024-20700).

Happy 2024 Everyone! I hope everyone is looking forward to another exciting year in the ever-changing world of IT operations and software security. This article aims to provide a quick summary of some of the latest trends, announcements, and changes associated with IT patch operations while looking at the upcoming Patch Tuesday and what software updates to expect. I hope you continue to find it valuable and check in every month.

January 2024 Patch Tuesday forecast

December 2023 Patch Tuesday provided the smallest set of updates in recent memory. Microsoft released updates for Windows 11 addressing 18 vulnerabilities, Windows 10 and associated servers addressing 22 vulnerabilities, and finally, Office updates with just three vulnerabilities.

There were no usual updates for .NET, Sharepoint, Exchange Server, or other software commonly supported. A printer issue was reported before December Patch Tuesday, where printer names and icons were being changed, and the HP Smart app was installed automatically. Microsoft released a tool late last month to resolve the situation, but it is not clear if any additional work will be done to resolve this issue.

Microsoft also announced the introduction of Windows Protected Print mode (WPP) which is to provide a ‘new, modern, and secure print experience from Windows’. There was an ongoing thread of printer vulnerabilities, operational issues, and fixes throughout 2023. Microsoft was listening and has extensively changed almost all aspects of the printing process. This great article goes into depth on all the known issues we’ve experienced and how they have addressed them. The WPP feature is available in the Windows 11 Insider channel and can be enabled for early testing per these directions.

We’ve just wrapped up 2023, and Microsoft is also wrapping up support for their ‘Defender Guard’ technologies. Defender Application Guard for Edge for Business was introduced in Windows 10 back in 2019, and Defender Guard for Office was added to Microsoft 365 customers just two years ago. They published this whitepaper to explain the transition to their new Copilot and other security technologies.

January 2024 Patch Tuesday forecast

  • January Patch Tuesday should get ‘back to normal’ with respect to Microsoft releases. They should release their standard OS and Office updates and will probably include a .NET framework and Exchange Server update as well. The standalone Service Stack Updates (SSUs) were updated in November, so we shouldn’t see any major updates coming this month.
  • Adobe usually releases a major security update for Acrobat and Reader in January each year. Be on the lookout for that and others in their suite of products.
  • Apple released Safari 17.2.1, Sonoma 14.2.1, and iOS 17.2.1 late last month. While we could see a Monterey or Ventura update soon, I suspect they will not come out next week.
  • Google updated the stable and extended channels for Windows, MacOS, and Linux for Desktop to 120.0.6099.199/200 this week, but have been on a regular weekly cadence so expect a follow-on next week. The current update includes four CVEs rated High so plan accordingly.
  • Mozilla last released Firefox and Thunderbird on December 19th, so expect another round from them as well next week.

It’s exciting to begin a new year and to see that Microsoft is finally addressing the ongoing printer problems in such a major way. Of course, it will take long time to roll out and get the new technology in place, but at least there is action being taken. We should see a standard mix of Microsoft and third-party updates next week to begin the new year, so best wishes for a smooth kickoff.

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