It’s A Record Patchapalooza Tuesday!

Does Microsoft Windows suck? Um, why do you ask?

Microsoft drops record 14 bulletins in largest-ever Patch Tuesday

It’s a very busy Patch Tuesday for Windows users: 14 bulletins covering 34 serious security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Silverlight, Microsoft XML Core Services and Server Message Block.

As previously reported, eight of the bulletins are rated “critical” because of the risk of remote code execution attacks. The other six are rated “important.”

The company also released a security advisory to warn of a new elevation of privilege issue in the Windows Service Isolation feature.

Windows users are urged to pay special attention to these four bulletins:

MS10-052 resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft’s MPEG Layer-3 audio codecs. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted media file or receives specially crafted streaming content from a Web site. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged on user.

MS10-055 resolves a privately reported vulnerability in the Cinepak codec that could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted media file, or receives specially crafted streaming content from a Web. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged on user.

MS10-056 resolves four privately reported vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office. The most severe vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user opens or previews a specially crafted RTF e-mail message. An attacker who successfully exploited any of these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the local user. Windows Vista and Windows 7 are less exploitable due to additional heap mitigation mechanisms in those operating systems.

MS10-060 resolves two privately reported vulnerabilities, both of which could allow remote code execution, in Microsoft .NET Framework and Microsoft Silverlight.

As Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer points out, the August update was the biggest ever by number of security bulletins, and equaled the single-month record for individual patches.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for August 2010
MS10-052
MS10-055
MS10-056
MS10-060
Windows Update Home
Record Patch Tuesday yields critical Windows, IE fixes
Record Patch Tuesday: Where to Begin
It’s Microsoft Patch Tuesday: August 2010
Microsoft: Big Patch Tuesday for IT Administrators
Microsoft releases record number of security patches
Microsoft issues patches for a record 35 fresh security holes
Microsoft Issues Biggest Security Patch Yet

What the hell is Bill Gates selling anyway, a computer operating system or Swiss cheese?

/you’d better get busy downloading, this one takes a while, sucks if you have dial up

Advertisements

Patchapalooza Tuesday

It’s a triple witching day for computer patches.

Microsoft, Adobe, and Oracle Patch Nearly 100 Vulnerabilities

It’s a busy day for IT administrators and information security professionals. Not only is today Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday for the month of April, it is also the day of Adobe’s quarterly security updates. In total, there are 40 vulnerabilities being addressed today–many of them rated as critical and exposing systems to potential remote exploits.

Microsoft Patch Tuesday

A Microsoft spokesperson e-mailed the following “Today, as part of its routine monthly security update cycle, Microsoft is releasing 11 security bulletins to address 25 vulnerabilities: five rated Critical, five rated Important and one rated Moderate. This month’s release affects Windows, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Exchange. Additionally, the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) was updated to include Win32/Magania.”

Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek noted in his blog post “Microsoft’s patch release for April contains 11 bulletins covering 25 vulnerabilities. The bulletins address a wide array of operating systems and software packages, IT administrators with a good inventory of their installed base will have an easier time to evaluating which machines need patches.”

“The critical Microsoft WinVerifyTrust signature validation vulnerability can be used to really enhance social engineering efforts,” said Joshua Talbot, security intelligence manager, Symantec Security Response in an e-mailed statement. “Targeted attacks are popular and since social engineering plays such a large role in them, plan on seeing exploits developed for this vulnerability.”

Talbot continued “It allows an attacker to fool Windows into thinking that a malicious program was created by a legitimate vendor. If a user begins to download an application and they see the Windows’ notification telling them who created it, they might think twice before proceeding if it’s from an unfamiliar source. This vulnerability allows an attacker to force Windows to report to the user that the application was created by any vendor the attacker chooses to impersonate.”

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle offered this analysis “More movies and more malware: that’s what we’ve got to look forward to on the Internet. Microsoft is patching critical bugs in Windows Media Player and Direct Show this month–both of these bugs lend themselves to online video malware. If you put these fixes together with Apple’s recent patch of Quicktime, it’s pretty obvious that attackers are finding a lot of victims through video.”

nCircle’s Tyler Reguly points out that there is also a greater message to be learned from the patches. “As an avid Windows XP user, I’m leaning more and more towards making the jump to Windows 7; with the added security it just makes sense. Looking at the top two vulnerabilities (MS10-027 and MS10-026), my Windows XP systems are vulnerable to both, yet my Windows 7 laptop isn’t affected by either of them. The newer operating system just makes sense.”

Adobe Quarterly Update

As if eleven security bulletins fixing 25 different vulnerabilities wasn’t enough, IT administrators must also address the critical updates released today from Adobe. nCircle’s Storms points out that “Every one of the 15 bugs can be used for remote code execution. Given the increase in the number of attacks that use Adobe PDF files, all users are strongly urged to upgrade immediately.”

Storms added “In stark contrast to Microsoft’s patch process, Adobe’s security bulletin information lacks details, especially critical information about potential workarounds. For enterprises that have a long test cycle, it can take weeks or even months to roll out updates. With no workaround information, Adobe leaves their enterprise customers vulnerable and security teams everywhere frustrated and annoyed.”

Andrew Brandt, lead threat research analyst with Webroot, warns “What’s more, they should be aware that Foxit Reader–which also reads PDFs–is actually more vulnerable.”

It is also worth noting that Adobe has rolled out its new update system which it has been beta testing over the past couple of months. Users can now configure Adobe software to automatically install updates, enabling security patches to be applied without requiring any user intervention.

Don’t Forget Oracle

Wait, there’s more! Not wanting to be left out of the patch day festivities, Oracle has also unleashed its own deluge of updates–more than Microsoft and Adobe combined.

There is a little bit of good news, though. Very few organizations will actually be impacted by every single one of the disclosed vulnerabilities. Qualys’ Kandek points out “This is a big release for Microsoft, addressing a wide selection of software. IT administrators probably will not have all of the included software packages and configurations installed in their environment and therefore will need to install only a subset of the 11 bulletins.”

The same logic holds true for Oracle and, to a lesser extent Adobe–although Adobe Reader is fairly ubiquitous. Have fun!

See also:
Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle offer fixes in big Patch Tuesday
Patch Tuesday: Microsoft safeguards video, Adobe secures PDFs
Microsoft Patch Tuesday Fixes 5 Critical Flaws
Microsoft Targets Media Flaws In April Patches
Microsoft blocks ‘movies-to-malware’ attacks
Microsoft Releases Multiple Updates; Vista SP0 Support Ends
Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for April 2010
New Adobe Auto-Updater Debuts On Super (Patch) Tuesday
Adobe Patches Acrobat/Reader Vulnerabilities, Updates on Updating
Security update available for Adobe Reader and Acrobat

/so, you know the drill people, get busy downloading those patches, hope you’re not on dial up!

Cyberwar Fail

Okay, so it was pretend, could have been more realistic, and adding the natural disasters was a bit much, but today’s Cyber ShockWave proved a point, the United States is not ready to defend herself against an organized, large scale cyber-attack. The Chinese, Russians, and a myriad of other state and criminal entities probe our cyber-defenses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, looking for weaknesses. If one or more of these actors decided to launch a coordinated, sustained cyber-assault, we could be brought down to our economic knees in a crippling world of infrastructure cyberhurt.

Report: The Cyber ShockWave and its aftermath

When it comes to the protection of the nation’s infrastructure, the government is lacking in several areas. While they have the ability to act offensively, if they know who the enemy is, the trick is to collect enough information and retaliate without violating domestic and foreign policy and law. The Tech Herald was in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to witness Cyber ShockWave. Here’s what we walked away with.

What happened?

Cyber ShockWave started with a vulnerability in the operating systems used by various Smartphones. Thanks to a malicious application, celebrating the NCAA’s March Madness, Spyware was loaded onto Smartphones that included a keylogger and data intercept component. The application was then used to funnel millions of dollars to banks overseas. From there, the data and money snatching application morphs, and the malicious application turns the infected devices into bots and adds them to a telecommunications botnet.

The bots start to download videos showing The Red Army. The downloads and resulting spread of the video result flood the data networks of the major carriers, and slow them to a crawl before crippling them altogether. After that, the Malware on the Smartphones starts to replicate, thanks to sync programs linking information from the phone to a computer. Now that the computers are infected, the ISPs face the same issue the telecoms faced. In the end, both communications systems are crippled.

If this wasn’t enough, weather patterns resulting in a heat wave and hurricanes stress the electrical system. This is where things go south, on a major scale. A hurricane wrecks the petroleum refining and natural gas processing centers, and a stressed electrical grid is hurt more by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and what is assumed to be a Malware attack on the Secure Trade power trading platform.

Both incidents are deemed critical, and the former top US officials debated how to respond for most of the event. The problem is that by the end of the debates, during both sessions, there were no real answers.

Behold the confusion that is Cyber ShockWave

Can we nationalize the U.S. power system? Should the National Guard be called out? The FBI reports that they have traced the services used in the March Madness application to Russia, is retaliation called for? Two IEDs were detonated in two different power facilities, is it terrorism? According to a GNN (the news source for media information during the event), there was a cyber component to the electrical outage, later assumed to be related to patches on the Secure Trade software. Was this the work of an insider? These were the topics of note, and the confusion only led to more questions and few answers.

The downside to the ShockWave, as it were, is that there were just too many levels of attack at the same time. The Cyber ShockWave exercise was to create a possible attack scenario, but not one that is total chaos. However, by adding the botnet side to the telecom attack, adding in natural disasters as well as potential terrorism on and offline, they added too much to the “Perfect Storm” that they kept referring to it as.

The malicious application causing harm to telecom and ISP networks is one scenario that is highly likely, as more and more applications make it to market and more and more people switch to Smartphones. The odds of this happening at the same time that the power grid is attacked, and a hurricane kills off oil and gas production, is simply too high to compute.

The point of it all

The main point to take away from Cyber ShockWave, at least how we see it, is that there needs to be a solid level of cooperation inside the government first, and then after that, between the government and private sector. There is no “I” in team, and when it comes to protecting the assets within the backbone of the Internet, both private and government entities have a lot to look after.

One interesting point came up when debating the Russian server, the one the FBI said was linked to the telecom attacks. Why doesn’t the government simply shut it down? The reason is that doing so could be considered an act of war. No one knows, because there is no policy or precedence of such an action.

The mirror side to this would be the question, what if the Russian server was a jumping point to a server in the U.S.? If so, can we shut it down then? What would be the reasoning? While killing a server in a foreign country could be perceived as an act of aggression, doing so on our own soil could be a violation of various laws, unless a state of emergency is ordered. Once that happens, according to the panel, the President has a good deal of leeway.

There are few limits to what the government can do in response to a threat to national security. What limits that exist are those enforced by policy and U.S. law. What this means is that while there were several ideas passed around, many of them are without precedence, so they couldn’t be acted on.

For example there was a patch for the Smartphones, one that would fix the Malware issue. Yet, only 50-percent of consumers applied it. To prevent further attacks to the telecommunications system, you can ask the people to stop using phones, or simply force them to stop using them by turning them off. If the issue was forced, and the government did something to turn the phones off, then there would be serious consequences to deal with later.

In the end, the Bipartisan Policy Center, who put Cyber ShockWave together, had hoped that the gaps existing within the law and government policy related to cybercrime and cyberattacks would be exposed. The got their wish, as gaps in both areas were exposed. But when it comes to balance between the private and government sectors and security, it takes more than policy to make it work.

It would have added a ton of weight to the exercise if there was some sort of consultation with energy companies or telecom representatives. They were absent during the mock attacks, and their absence was felt when you consider that by the time the President was “briefed”, there was no solid plan of action as to how to deal with and recover from the incidents.

There were some smart and skilled people on the panel. Yet, the scripting made the panel come off as clueless when it came to the reach, intelligence, and overall skill of foreign attackers. The current cyber capacities of the various international terrorist groups were left completely off the table.

Overall, the Cyber ShockWave was more media hype than actual intelligence and insight. We had hoped to see some of the political heavyweights on the panel act with their full capacity and experience, but they either couldn’t or opted not to. If anything, the federal employees who attended learned that managing IT in the public world, and dealing with threats there, is nothing like attempting the same feat within the federal government.

See also:
U.S. Isn’t Prepared for Massive Cyber Attack, Ex-Officials Say
War game reveals U.S. lacks cyber-crisis skills
In a doomsday cyber attack scenario, answers are unsettling
Washington Group Tests Security in ‘Cyber ShockWave’
US networks and power grid under (mock) cyber-attack
Cyberattack simulation highlights vulnerabilities
Former officials war-game cyberattack
Former Government Officials Gather to Rehearse Cyberwar
Former top U.S. officials hold cyberattack exercise
Cyber ShockWave cripples computers nationwide (sorta)
Cyber Shockwave : Cyber-Attack to Test Government Response
Is The U.S. Ready For A Cyberwar?
25 ways to better secure software from cyber attacks
It’s Your Cyberspace Too, So Take Care Of It
Bipartisan Policy Center

/remember, this was only a test, had this been an actual emergency we would have been seriously [expletive deleted]