Microsoft patches 'super nasty' Windows bugs
Expect worm soon, says researcher, who sees damage potential on par with Blaster, Sasser
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today patched three vulnerabilities in the company's Server Message Block (SMB) file-sharing protocol, including two that could make "Swiss cheese" out of enterprise networks, according to one researcher.
"This is super nasty," said Eric Schultze, the chief technology officer at Shavlik Technologies LLC, who also called today's update "super critical" as he sounded the alarm. "Expect to see a worm on this one in the very near future, [because] this is Blaster and Sasser all over again."
Those two worms, 2003's Blaster and 2004's Sasser, wreaked havoc worldwide as they spread to millions of Windows machines.
Of the three bugs outlined in the MS09-001 security bulletin, two were rated "critical," the most serious ranking in Microsoft's four-step scoring system, while the third was pegged "moderate."
The pair identified as critical are extremely dangerous because attackers can exploit them simply by sending malformed data to unpatched machines, according to Schultze. "These flaws enable an attacker to send evil packets to a Microsoft computer and take any action they desire on that computer [with] no credentials required," he said. "The only prerequisite for this attack to be successful is a connection from the attacker to the victim over the NetBIOS ports, TCP 139 or TCP 445. By default, most computers have these ports turned on."
Much the same situation led to Blaster and Sasser, Schultze noted. "More people have blocked those ports, and more personal firewalls block them by default, but they are typically left open in a corporate network."
Amol Sarwate, manager of Qualys Inc.'s vulnerability lab, agreed. "The ports are always open [in the enterprise], and no user intervention is needed," he said. "This is nasty."
Today's update affects all currently-supported versions of Windows, including Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008, Microsoft noted. Although the newer editions -- Vista and Server 2008 -- are immune from one of the two critical vulnerabilities. The second critical bug -- which is also wormable, according to Schultze and Sarwate -- is rated as moderate for Vista and Server 2008, because those two operating systems have file-sharing disabled by default.
That, plus other mitigating circumstances, must be why Microsoft gave the three bugs its lowest exploitability index rating, even though two carried critical severity rankings, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security Inc.
"This might be the first time that Microsoft has labeled a critical vulnerability all the way down to '3' on the exploitability index," said Storms, talking about Microsoft's relatively new practice of predicting the likelihood of attackers coming up with successful exploits for bugs in the coming month. Microsoft tagged all three of today's bugs with a "3" on its 1-3 exploitability index. According to the company, a "3" means "functioning exploit code is unlikely."
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts