Microsoft has issued a new series of critical security patches to fix three further vulnerabilities, targeted by National Security Agency in the set of leaked exploits that included Wannacry, responsible for the cyber-attack that floored parts of the NHS last month.
The firm's general manager of the Cyber Defence Operations Centre Adrienne Hall has cited an "elevated risk of cyberattacks by government organizations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors, or other copycat organizations".
Microsoft released its monthly "Patch Tuesday" Windows updates yesterday for all supported machines.
Today's critical security updates are in addition to the normal Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft said.
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Typically, Microsoft only issues updates for its operating systems that are still supported - for consumers, that means Windows 7 and newer (with the exception of Windows 8, which is meant to be covered by the free upgrade to Windows 8.1). Meanwhile, supported versions can have the updates automatically delivered through Windows Update. "Some of them are pretty old", he said of the dozen vulnerabilities that Microsoft patched. 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. An "unsupported" operating system is one that has lapsed beyond Microsoft's 10-year product support policy. While nearly all WannaCry victims were running Windows 7 without the latest security updates, it's not clear if these new attacks might target Windows XP more aggressively this time around.
Microsoft revealed before that these exploits only affect unsupported versions. However, these older versions do not have the level of exploit hardening and platform features (e.g., Device Guard, instant cloud protection etc.) available in Windows 10 to effectively protect against the threat.
"For Microsoft to review and release several updates for "end of lifed" platforms you can be sure there was good cause", he added. As of May 2017, 5.66 percent of PCs worldwide run the outdated OS, according to Net Applications. The patches will be made available on Microsoft's Download Center or Windows Update. Windows XP users were mostly affected by the said malware attack.
Microsoft says its decision to push-out to operating systems not now in extended support "should not be viewed as a departure from our standard servicing policies".
Yesterday, we told you about a new round of security patches heading out to Windows XP.