Don’t Get Caught In The Crossfire

The Duqu virus is squarely aimed at Iran’s nuclear program. Unless you’re connected with Iran’s nuclear program, your chances of being directly targeted are extremely low. However, Microsoft was freaked out enough to issue a security bulletin for Windows users. So, better safe than sorry, protect yourself against the possibility of becoming collateral damage in an epic, upcoming attack.

Microsoft issues Duqu virus workaround for Windows

Microsoft has issued a temporary fix to the pernicious Duqu virus — also known as “Son of Stuxnet” — which could affect users of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 as well as Windows Server 2008.

The company promised the security update earlier this week as it races to deal with the virus, which targets victims via email with a Microsoft Word attachment. The virus is not in the email, but in the attachment itself. A Symantec researcher said if a user opens the Word document, the attacker could take control of the PC, and nose around in an organization’s network to look for data, and the virus could propagate itself.

See also:
Microsoft Security Advisory (2639658)
Microsoft software bug linked to ‘Duqu’ virus
Microsoft Provides Workaround Patch for Duqu Malware
Microsoft announces workaround for the Duqu exploit
Microsoft Issues Temporary Duqu Workaround, Plans 4 Patch Tuesday Fixes
Six Ways to Protect Yourself from Duqu
Microsoft Airs Temporary Fix to Defeat Duqu Worm
Microsoft Releases Temporary Plug For Duqu
Duqu exploits same Windows font engine patched last month, Microsoft confirms
5 Things To Do To Defend Against Duqu
Microsoft issues temporary ‘fix-it’ for Duqu zero-day
Patch Tuesday: Fix for ‘Duqu’ zero-day not likely this month

Is it just me or doesn’t it seem a bit more than odd that Microsoft, a company with close ties to and a past history of working with U.S. intelligence agencies, would publicly issue a workaround to defend against a specific piece of malware that, by many accounts, is being actively and currently used by U.S. intelligence agencies to set up and facilitate an upcoming attack, in cyberspace or otherwise, against Iran’s nuclear program? I mean, it’s not like the Iranians can’t read English, why help them defend against Duqu? Hmmm, something’s not quite right here.

/whatever’s going on, and something is going on, it’s way above my pay grade, but when the endgame comes, don’t forget to duck

Tuesday Fun With Microsoft

Windows, the software of perpetual patching. This installment is fairly large.

Microsoft Fixes Internet Explorer, Windows Flaws in October Patch Tuesday

Microsoft fixed 23 vulnerabilities across eight security bulletins as part of its October Patch Tuesday release.

October’s Patch Tuesday release resolved issues in Internet Explorer versions 6 through 9, all versions of Microsoft Windows from XP through 7, .NET and Silverlight, Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway and Host Integration Server, Microsoft said Oct. 11. Two of the patches are rated “critical,” and six are rated “important,” Microsoft said.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-082 – Important
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-081 – Critical
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-080 – Important
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-079 – Important
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-078 – Critical
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-077 – Important
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-076 – Important
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-075 – Important
Microsoft’s October 2011 Patch Tuesday fixes 23 flaws, releases SIRv11
MS wipes out 23 flaws in October’s Patch Tuesday
Patch Internet Explorer Now
23 vulnerabilities squashed by Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday effort
Microsoft Update

So, get busy and happy patching!

/until the next time Microsoft releases patches to make its software suck less . . .

The New Laptop Is Here!

The laptop itself is awesome! Wrangling the software into submission is another awful matter entirely, Windows 7 64 bit does not play very nice with my familiar, well broken in, just the way I like it, optimized XP world.

/this is going to be a long, hard slog, loud, intense, and sustained swearing is expected to ensue, hopefully I’ll be able to physically restrain myself from striking or otherwise damaging expensive computer hardware

Okay Kids, It’s Tuesday, Remember What We Do On Tuesdays?

Why, we patch Windows on Tuesdays!

Microsoft Issues Four Patches, Fixes Critical Help Center Flaw

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) released a mild bulletin for its July Patch Tuesday, repairing a total of five vulnerabilities with four security updates in Windows and Office, including a critical Help and Support Center flaw already exploited in the wild.

Of the four patches Microsoft released, three are considered critical, indicating that they can enable hackers to launch malicious attacks via remote code execution. The three critical flaws occur in both Microsoft Windows and Office, which included flaws in the Microsoft Help and Support Center, ActiveX and Canonical Display Driver. The fourth patch, ranked with the slightly less severe rating of “important,” occurs in Microsoft Outlook.

Hands down, security experts recommend that users apply a patch repairing a critical Help and Support Center flaw in Windows XP and supported editions of Windows Server 2003, which is currently being exploited in active attacks.

See also:
Microsoft security updates for July 2010
It’s Microsoft Patch Tuesday: July 2010
Microsoft Patch Tuesday for July 2010: four bulletins
Microsoft Issues Four Security Bulletins
Microsoft patches critical bugs in Windows, Office
Microsoft Patches Critical Security Holes, Ends Windows XP SP2 Support
One final patch for Windows XP Service Pack 2 before it reaches end-of-life
Microsoft Patches Windows, Office Bugs

You all know the drill for fixing this magnificent Bill Gates software.

/so, load ’em down, patch ’em up, patch ’em up, shut ’em down, boot ’em up, ride ’em on, Windows!

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!

Microsoft Cleans Up After Chinese Hack Of Google, Obama Turns The Other Cheek

Microsoft to release patch for IE hole on Thursday

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it will release on Thursday a patch to fix the latest hole in Internet Explorer that was used in the China-based attack on Google and for which an exploit has been released on the Internet since last week.

The company plans to release the patch as close to 10 a.m. PST on Thursday as possible and host a public Webcast at 1 p.m. PST, according to the security advisory.

Microsoft continues to see limited attacks and has only seen evidence of successful attacks against Internet Explorer 6, according to Jerry Bryant, senior security program manager at Microsoft.

“This is a standard cumulative update, accelerated from our regularly scheduled February release, for Internet Explorer with an aggregate severity rating of Critical,” he said in a statement.

“It addresses the vulnerability related to recent attacks against Google and a small subset of corporations, as well as several other vulnerabilities. Once applied, customers are protected against the known attacks that have been widely publicized,” Bryant said. “We recommend that customers install the update as soon as it is available. For customers using automatic updates, this update will automatically be applied once it is released.”

Vulnerable software is IE 6 on Microsoft Windows 2000 and IE 6, 7, and 8 on supported editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft said.

So, while China continues its relentless, covert cyberwar against U.S. and other Western commercial, government, and military targets, stealing information and secrets and causing economic and national security damage to our computer networks, guess what the Obama administration has decided to do, against the advice of U.S. intelligence officials and experts?

China removed as top priority for spies

The White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for China, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing’s military and its cyber-attacks.

The downgrading of intelligence gathering on China was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said.

The decision downgrades China from “Priority 1” status, alongside Iran and North Korea, to “Priority 2,” which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.

The National Security Council staff, in response, pressed ahead with the change and sought to assure Mr. Blair and other intelligence chiefs that the change would not affect the allocation of resources for spying on China or the urgency of focusing on Chinese spying targets, the officials told The Washington Times.

White House National Security Council officials declined to comment on the intelligence issue. Mike Birmingham, a spokesman for Mr. Blair, declined to comment. A CIA spokesman also declined to comment.

But administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the new policy is part of the Obama administration’s larger effort to develop a more cooperative relationship with Beijing.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification for January 2010
New IE hole exploited in attacks on U.S. firms
Microsoft Scrambles to Patch Browser
Microsoft patching “Google hack” flaw in IE tomorrow
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-002 Coming Thursday for IE Zero-Day
Microsoft to issue “Google attack” browser patch
Microsoft to issue emergency IE patch Thursday
Microsoft will issue emergency IE patch on Thursday
China removed as top priority for spies
China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering: White House
‘China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering’
China: Still an Intelligence Priority

Relax, don’t worry, the country is in the very best of hands.

/Obama’s NSC, more than a dozen morons stuffed in a four passenger clown car

Bill Gates Strikes Again

Microsoft warns of serious computer security hole

Microsoft Corp. has taken the rare step of warning about a serious computer security vulnerability it hasn’t fixed yet.

The vulnerability disclosed Monday affects Internet Explorer users whose computers run the Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 operating software.

It can allow hackers to remotely take control of victims’ machines. The victims don’t need to do anything to get infected except visit a Web site that’s been hacked.

Security experts say criminals have been attacking the vulnerability for nearly a week. Thousands of sites have been hacked to serve up malicious software that exploits the vulnerability. People are drawn to these sites by clicking a link in spam e-mail.

The so-called “zero day” vulnerability disclosed by Microsoft affects a part of its software used to play video. The problem arises from the way the software interacts with Internet Explorer, which opens a hole for hackers to tunnel into.

Microsoft urged vulnerable users to disable the problematic part of its software, which can be done from Microsoft’s Web site, while the company works on a “patch” — or software fix — for the problem.

See also:
Microsoft Security Advisory (972890)
Microsoft: Attacks on Unpatched Windows Flaw
Windows users ambushed by attack on fresh IE flaw
Hackers exploit second DirectShow zero-day using thousands of hijacked sites
New attack code targets Microsoft ActiveX zero-day vulnerability
Zero-Day Video Exploit Hits Windows XP
Zero-day Windows flaw fuels IE attacks

/let’s have a big round of applause for Bill and his magnificent software