Critical security flaw in Windows 7 and Windows XP

The update is shipped to Windows 10 version 1809

The update is shipped to Windows 10 version 1809

The vulnerability can be partially mitigated by enabling Network Level Authentication (NLA) for Remote Desktop Services Connections on vulnerable systems, an authentication method which "completes user authentication before you establish a remote desktop connection and the logon screen appears". An estimated 3 million Remote Desktop Protocol endpoints are now exposed to the internet, according to security researcher Kevin Beaumont, citing data from device search engine Shodan. "The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Skype for Android answers incoming calls", Microsoft says, adding that exploitation is less likely.

Now that I have your attention, it is important that affected systems are patched as quickly as possible to prevent such a scenario from happening. "In response, we are taking the unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms, including some out-of-support versions of Windows". "In other words, the vulnerability is 'wormable, ' meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017".

For highly likely, read absolutely certain: a malware propagation method like this is going to be appearing very soon since it's a low-priced, highly effective way of spamming out ransomware and trojans.

The vulnerability (CVE-2019-0708) resides in the "remote desktop services" component built into supported versions of Windows, including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2008. (Old hardware can run very nice versions of Linux, which cost nothing.) And if you're one of those stick-in-the-muds still running Windows 7, you have eight months to update those machines to Windows 10.

While you're patching that, there's a lot of other stuff to fix in the Patch Tuesday update.

We released an update to address this on May 14, 2019, and recommend customers using older operating systems update to the latest version of Windows or apply the update as soon as possible.

One of the priorities this month is CVE-2019-0863, which is an elevation of privilege vulnerability in Windows that's already being exploited by attackers.

"This update includes updates that come as part of the normal monthly release cycle", a Microsoft support note explains.

This update is available normally via Windows Update, and you don't have to be in the Windows Insider program to receive it.

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