Microsoft patches Windows XP and Vista, advises customers update ASAP

29 June, 2017, 02:15 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Microsoft includes Windows XP and Vista in June's Patch Tuesday updates

"The company also released a patch for the operating system last month in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attacks, which targeted hospitals and other institutions".

"Our decision today to release these security updates for platforms not in extended support should not be viewed as a departure from our standard servicing policies", states Doerr. "We made the decision public in 2014, without setting specific dates and OSes until later", Ned Pyle, Principal Program Manager in the Microsoft Windows Server High Availability and Storage group, told Bleeping Computer about the removal of the protocol.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment when asked whether the company had received warnings of an imminent attack, either from security researchers or government agencies.

It should be remembered that Microsoft has now changed its regular Patch Tuesday update process. Rather than wait for that to happen, Microsoft is taking the proactive step of issuing a security update for virtually all Windows platforms dating back to Windows XP. ZDI noted that while the new Microsoft patch touches different parts of code, the exploit vector remains the same, with remote code execution occurring if a specially crafted shortcut is displayed. This is one area where big data and extensive analytics can be genuinely useful, and using a cloud-based antivirus system allows Microsoft to update its heuristics and detection algorithms in real time. Following the release, reports claimed that Microsoft had been sitting on the patch since February.

It's the second time in a month Microsoft has taken the unprecedented move to patch those systems, which include Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista and Windows 8.

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This was possible, it later emerged, because the NSA informed Microsoft about the leak of the exploits.

This most recent course reversal, which also applies to other unsupported systems such as Windows XP, comes alongside June Patch Tuesday updates that addressed an eye-opening 94 vulnerabilities. "Windows XP is retired", Goettl said. That consists of a five year period called Mainstream Support and then a follow on period of five more years for just security related updates.

ETERNALBLUE was only one of the many Windows hacking tools dumped online by the Shadow Brokers in April. It stressed that older platforms lack the security features of their modern counterparts, even if they're kept up-to-date. The company had previously said it would not fix these potential exploits as they only affected older, unsupported versions of Windows.

But if you still haven't got around to replacing your out-of-support versions, don't forget that this month brings you a blast from the past: old-school Patch Tuesday updates. "On one hand, it offers protections to those who may be unable to migrate off XP for whatever reason".

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