Monday, 27 May, 2019

Critical security flaw in Windows 7 and Windows XP

Microsoft Patches 'Wormable' Flaw in Windows XP, 7 and Windows 2003 Microsoft issues new patch for Windows XP to fight a dangerous 'wormable' vulnerability
Emmett Howard | 15 May, 2019, 20:25

Microsoft released fixes for 79 unique vulnerabilities yesterday, including 22 critical bugs - one of which could be used to spread malware around the globe. More information can be found, on our blog and the Security Update Guide.

Microsoft said that it hasn't seen anyone take advantage of the flaw, which affects older versions of its Windows operating system, but that it believes it is "highly likely" the flaw will wind up being exploited by malicious software, now that it has been publicly disclosed. Systems running Windows 8 and Windows 10 are not affected.

The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is not itself vulnerable.

Microsoft also patched CVE-2019-0953, a remote code vulnerability in Microsoft Office which lets an attacker run code as the targeted user by persuading them to open a malicious file.

The vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services is pre-authentication and requires no user interaction, which means that any malware using this flaw could propagate from computer to computer like the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017.

For those who can not apply the security updates, Microsoft advises either disabling RDP services if they are not required, blocking TCP port 3389 at the enterprise perimeter firewall, and/or enabling Network Level Authentication (NLA) on systems running supported editions of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2. With NLA enabled, systems are protected against "wormable" malware or advanced malware threats that could exploit the vulnerability, as NLA requires authentication before the vulnerability can be triggered.

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The vulnerability causing all the fuss is a flaw in Remote Desktop Services, which as the name implies lets you remotely control a far-off PC from a second PC.

Partial mitigation against the RDS vulnerability is possible with network-level authentication (NLA).

There are no public exploits for it yet and no indication that it's already being actively exploited.

The latter, CVE-2019-0725, is a particularly nasty memory corruption vulnerability, since all that is needed to exploit it is a well-crafted packet sent to a DHCP server and affects all now supported versions of Windows, client and server.

ZombieLoad is known as a Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) vulnerability, and it shares some characteristics with Spectre and Meltdown, the two side channel attacks announced in January 2018. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could execute arbitrary code on the target system.

"This update includes updates that come as part of the normal monthly release cycle", a Microsoft support note explains. In some cases, installing these updates will have a performance impact.

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