Microsoft patches new Windows bug exploited by Stuxnet
Fixes 11 flaws, reveals that July worm used four zero-days to infect PCs
Computerworld - Microsoft today delivered nine security updates to patch 11 bugs in Office, the IIS Web server and Windows, including one that was overlooked but exploited by a July worm.
"Our old friend Stuxnet is back," said Jason Miller, data and security team manager for patch-management vendor Shavlik Technologies, referring to a worm that popped up two months as it attacked Windows computers used to manage industrial control systems in major manufacturing and utility companies.
"Vulnerability researchers decompiled the worm and found it was doing something else," Miller added.
That something else was exploiting a vulnerability in Windows' print spooler service, a fact that experts at U.S. antivirus vendor Symantec and the Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab reported to Microsoft.
Microsoft patched the print pooler software with MS10-061 today, but said two lesser zero-day vulnerabilities -- one rooted out by Kaspersky, the other by Microsoft's engineers -- will be addressed in a future update.
In early August, Microsoft shipped an emergency, or "out-of-band" update to plug a hole in Windows shortcuts, the small files displayed by icons on the desktop, on the toolbar and in the Start menu that launch applications and documents when clicked. Stuxnet had also used the shortcut bug to compromise computers.
"The fact that Stuxnet targets four previously unidentified vulnerabilities makes the worm a real standout among malware," said Alex Gostev, chief security expert with Kaspersky, in an e-mail today. "It's the first time we've come across a threat that contains so many 'surprises.'"
Other researchers echoed Gostev's new-found respect for Stuxnet's makers.
"That was a very liberal use of zero-days," noted Wolfgang Kandek, CTO at Qualys, talking about the four previously-unknown vulnerabilities the worm exploited. "I don't want to say they wasted them, but you have to wonder why someone would use four zero-days in one piece of malware. The targets must have been very important to them."
According to data compiled by Symantec in July, computers in Iran were hit hardest by Stuxnet. Siemens, whose control software was targeted by Stuxnet, today said that the worm had infected at least 14 plants.
Most researchers who Computerworld contacted today put the MS10-061 print spooler patch at the top of their to-do lists.
Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, was the exception.
"MS10-061 is a big deal because of its relationship to Stuxnet, but its command-and-control has been pretty much knocked out," Storms said. "It's an important item for Microsoft to fix because there exploitation is going on, but for the worm to [exploit the vulnerability] is rather mitigated."
Microsoft said that Windows XP machines sharing printers are the most vulnerable to attack.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- 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