Microsoft locks down Advanced Notification Service

January 12, 2015 | 11:44

Tags: #patch-tuesday #security #update-tuesday #vulnerability #windows

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has announced that 2015 is to be the year that its Patch Tuesday Advanced Notification Service (ANS) is locked behind closed doors, making the previously-public information available for 'Premier' customers only from this month forward.

As part of its monthly Patch Tuesday - recently rebranded Update Tuesday - release cycle, Microsoft has long published advanced notifications of each patch. The notification typically goes out on the first Tuesday of the month, with the patches themselves being released on the second Tuesday. As a result, customers are able to plan ahead for which patches need testing and deployment in their network and which can be safely ignored - or, given the company's recently-lax quality control over these things, actively blocked until proven safe.

The Advanced Notification Service is to no more be a public resource, however, with Microsoft officially locking the notifications away from open access starting with February's releases. 'We are making changes to how we distribute ANS to customers,' Microsoft's Chris Betz explained in a blog post late last week. 'Moving forward, we will provide ANS information directly to Premier customers and current organisations involved in our security programs, and will no longer make this information broadly available through a blog post and web page.

'Customer feedback indicates that many of our large customers no longer use ANS in the same way they did in the past due to optimised testing and deployment methodologies,
' claimed Betz in defence of his company's decision to remove the notifications from the public eye. 'While some customers still rely on ANS, the vast majority wait for Update Tuesday, or take no action, allowing updates to occur automatically. As our customers’ needs change, so must our approach to security. We remain relentless in our commitment to protect customers and the ongoing delivery of secure computing experiences.'

A similar announcement from the company in June last year saw the security notification email service closed, only to re-open the very next day following vociferous customer feedback. Whether Microsoft will perform a similar volte-face over the closure of public ANS notifications remains to be seen.
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