Tag Archives: Patches

Microsoft Black Tuesday: Word 0day Fix & More

Microsoft’s monthly Patch Day went live earlier today. As expected they released four security bulletins, fixing flaws in Windows, Internet Explorer (IE), and Office. Microsoft rates two of the bulletins as critical, one that fixes Word vulnerabilities (including a zero day one I warned about earlier) and another that fixes IE flaws.

If you use the affected Microsoft products, you should apply these patches as soon as you can. I’d apply the updates in the order Microsoft recommends; the Word update first, the IE one second, and the Windows and Publisher updates last.

In any case, I’ll share more details about today’s Patch Day bulletins on the blog throughout the day.  However, I am currently traveling in Asia, so my blog posts may be late due to timezone issues and travel. So I recommend you check out the April bulletin summary in the meantime, if you’d like an early peek. Also, keep in mind that Adobe released a Flash update today as well. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).

Only Four Microsoft Security Bulletins in April

Yesterday, Microsoft released their advanced notification, warning that they plan to release four security bulletins next Tuesday. The bulletins will include patches for Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer, and two have received Microsoft’s Critical severity rating. I suspect the Office updates will include a fix for the recent zero day Word flaw I mentioned in an earlier post.

Also note, April’s Patch Day marks the last time Microsoft will release Windows XP updates. They’ve been warning about XP’s End-of-Life for awhile now, and it’s finally upon us. Though some people think Microsoft’s using the opportunity to force people to upgrade, I believe XP has hung around longer than any operating system before it (13 years), and frankly it’s about time you update. I suspect hackers are holding onto an XP zero day or two, so it may be dangerous to keep it around much longer. That said, WatchGuard will continue to release IPS signatures for any future XP network flaws and AV signatures for XP malware.

In any case, I’ll post details about Microsoft bulletins next week, and if Adobe releases any updates you’ll hear about them here too. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

Microsoft Black Tuesday: Patch IE Zero Day & Windows Vulnerabilities

Microsoft’s March Patch Day is live, and looks to be by the numbers. As expected, they released five bulletins, including one that contains a fix for a zero day vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Their Patch Day summary highlights five security bulletins that fix 23 vulnerabilities in various Microsoft products, including Internet Explorer (IE), Windows and its various components, such as Silverlight. They rate two of these bulletins as Critical, and the rest as Important.

MS Patch Day: March 2014As I mentioned in my notification post, the most important update this month is the IE cumulative patch. Besides fixing 23 memory corruption flaws, many of which attackers could exploit to execute code, one specifically fixes a critical zero day flaw which attackers have been leveraging in watering hole attacks. Though Microsoft released a Fix-it for this vulnerability a few weeks ago, this update completely corrects the underlying issue. Make sure to install the IE update on all your clients as soon as possible. Hopefully, you already have Automatic Updates set to do it for you. Of course, you should also install the Windows updates too, especially the DirectShow one. If an attacker can trick one of your users into viewing a malicious JPEG image, he could exploit it to gain control of that user’s computer, with their privileges. You don’t want that.

While we are talking about Windows updates, let me take this time to continue to remind you that these updates are among the last that Windows XP will receive. XP users will likely see a few more updates next month, but after than it goes End-of-Life. Hopefully, most of you are saying, “Why do I care? I’ve been using Windows 7 or above for years.” But for the stragglers out there, you might want to consider upgrading to a more recent version of Windows. While I don’t want to come off as promoting Microsofts “upgrade” sales message, I do believe XP will likely pose more risk once the official updates stop. It seems very likely that some cyber attacker (or nation-state groups) out there are sitting on a zero day XP exploit or two; saving them until after Microsoft’s fixes run out. You might want to get away from XP before that happens.

In any case, I’ll share more details about today’s Patch Day bulletins on the blog throughout the day. Meanwhile, check out the March  bulletin summary now, if you’d like an early peek. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).

March’s Patch Day Includes an IE Zero Day Fix

It’s almost that time of the month again. Next week is Microsoft Patch day, and here’s what you can expect.

MS Patch Notification: March 2014According to Microsoft’s advanced notification, next week’s Patch Day should be fairly light, and relatively simple. The Redmond-based software company plans to release five security bulletins, fixing flaws in Windows, Internet Explorer (IE), and Silverlight. They rate two updates as Critical and the rest as Important. The biggest news about these updates is that the IE one will completely fix the zero day flaw that attackers have been exploiting in the wild, in watering hole attacks. So at the very least, you should prepare to install the IE update as soon as you can next week.

In related news, Adobe also shares Microsoft’s Patch Day. They haven’t announced if they will release any updates yet (they just recently released that emergency Flash one), but I would keep an eye on their security page next Tuesday. In any case, I’ll post details about Microsoft bulletins next week, and if Adobe releases any updates you’ll hear about them here. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

Microsoft Black Tuesday: IE Fix Leads the List of Critical Updates

Today’s Microsoft Patch Day will probably be a bit busier than expected. It looks like Microsoft called a last minute audible, releasing seven security bulletins rather than the five I mention in last week’s security video. The good news is this last minute play change might help your security team win the game by providing your users with a more protected web browser.

Microsoft Patch Day: Feb, 2014

Microsoft Patch Day: Feb, 2014

February’s Patch Day summary highlights seven security bulletins that fix 32 vulnerabilities in various Microsoft products, including Internet Explorer (IE), Windows and its various components, and Forefront Protection for Exchange. They rate four of these bulletins as Critical, and the rest as Important.

This month, the most important updates are probably the most unexpected ones. Microsoft’s original advisory suggested they planned on releasing updates for Windows and one of their security products (which we now know is Forefront Protection), but they had not mentioned the IE or VBScript updates they released today. However, both these unexpected updates make great additions to this month’s Patch Day. The IE cumulative patch fixes 24 serious vulnerabilities, including one disclosed publicly; many of which attackers can leverage to execute code in drive-by download attacks. Though Microsoft hasn’t seen anyone exploiting these flaws in the wild yet, I expect attackers will surely reverse this update and start exploiting these flaws soon. The VBscript update is no slouch either, as it too fixes a code execution flaw. If bad guys can entice you to a web page with malicious code, they can use these flaws to”pwn” your computer.

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the expected updates either. Two of them—the critical flaws in Direct2D and Forefront Protection for Exchange—also allow remote attackers to execute code on your systems. In short if you are a Microsoft administrator, you should apply today’s critical updates as soon as you can, and take care of the Important while you’re at it. In general, I recommend you test Microsoft updates before deploying them throughout your production network, especially server related updates that affect critical production servers. This is probably especially this month, for the two surprise updates. Since the IE and VBScript updates came out a bit earlier than expected, they may not have gone through as rigorous a QA process as usual. You might want to give them a whirl on non-production machines, or your virtual testing environment before sharing them with your users.

For more details on today’s Patch Day, check out the February bulletin summary now, or wait for our detailed, consolidated alerts which I’ll post on the blog through the day. — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).

Multiple Word Memory Corruptions Make for Malicious Documents

Severity: High

Summary:

  • These vulnerabilities affect: Microsoft Office related products, including Word and Outlook
  • How an attacker exploits them: Typically by enticing users to open or interact with maliciously crafted Office documents or email
  • Impact: In the worst case, an attacker can gain complete control of your Windows computer
  • What to do: Install the appropriate Microsoft patches as soon as possible, or let Windows Automatic Update do it for you.

Exposure:

As part of today’s Patch Day, Microsoft released a security bulletin describing three vulnerabilities affecting the Windows versions of Word, and related software like Word Viewer, the Office compatibility packs, and Web Application products.

Word is the popular word processor that ships with Office.  It suffers from three memory corruption vulnerabilities having to do with how it handles certain objects in memory. Though they differ technically, all three flaws share the same scope and impact. By luring one of your users into downloading and opening a malicious Word or Office document, an attacker can exploit any of these flaws to execute code on that user’s computer, with that user’s privileges. If your users have local administrator privileges, the attacker gains complete control of their PCs. These flaws affect all versions of Word except for Word for Mac.

Microsoft only rates this update as Important (their medium severity), since it requires user interaction to succeed. However, we’ve seen many attackers successfully use malicious Office documents in emails, as part of their advanced spear-phishing campaigns. For that reason, we recommend you install Microsoft’s Word updates as soon as you can.

Solution Path:

Microsoft has released Word (and related product) updates to correct these vulnerabilities. You should download, test, and deploy the appropriate updates throughout your network as soon as possible. If you choose, you can also let Windows Update automatically download and install these updates for you.

See the “Affected and Non-Affected Software” section of Microsoft’s Word bulletin for links to the updates.

For All WatchGuard Users:

WatchGuard’s Gateway Antivirus service can often prevent the most common malicious documents from reaching your users. You can also leverage our XTM appliance’s proxies policies to block all Word documents if you like; though most administrators prefer not to since Office documents are often shared as part of business. To fully protect yourself, we recommend you install Microsoft’s updates.

Status:

Microsoft has released patches correcting these issues.

References:

This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).


What did you think of this alert? Let us know at your.opinion.matters@watchguard.com.

One of Windows’ Two Updates Corrects 0day Flaw

Flaws in Kernel and Kernel-mode Drivers

Severity: High

Summary:

  • These vulnerabilities affect: Windows XP, 7, Server 2003, and Server 2008
  • How an attacker exploits them: By running a malicious program locally or by tricking a user into running something they shouldn’t
  • Impact: In the worst case, a local attacker can gain complete control of your Windows computer
  • What to do: Install the appropriate Microsoft patches immediately, or let Windows Automatic Update do it for you.

Exposure:

Today, Microsoft released two security bulletins describing the same number of vulnerabilities affecting many versions of Windows. Specifically, the flaws affect Windows XP, 7, Server 2003, and Server 2008. Microsoft has assigned both these vulnerabilities their medium severity rating of Important. However, attackers have already been found exploiting one of them in the wild, so we recommend you at least patch that one (MS14-002) as quickly as possible.

Quick note: Before diving into the bulletin details, we’d like to share a quick note for Windows XP users. Over the past few months, Microsoft has diligently been informing its customers that Windows XP will reach the “end-of-support” phase of its lifecycle on April 8th, 2014… which is in three short months. Among other things, this means that Windows XP will no longer receive security updates, even if attackers find new flaws in the popular OS. Microsoft has a great blog post discussing the risks of running unsupported software. XP was one of the better versions of Windows, and one we suspect some will be sad to see go (and in some cases it’s embedded in products that are hard to upgrade). That said, if you still use XP in your organization, you may want to consider a transition plan before time runs out. Now back to our regular programming…

The summary below lists the vulnerabilities, in order from highest to lowest severity.

  • MS14-002Kernel Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability

The kernel is the core component of any computer operating system. The NDProxy.sys kernel component that ships with Windows XP and Server 2003 suffers from an input validation vulnerability, which attackers can leverage to elevate their privilege. By running a specially crafted program, or by tricking a user into running something malicious, a local attacker could exploit this flaw to gain complete control of your PC. However, the attacker would first need to gain local access to your Windows computer using valid credentials. This factor significantly reduces the severity of the issue. However, researchers have already found attackers exploiting this vulnerability in the wild, to elevate their privileges as part other attacks. For this reason, we highly recommend you patch Windows XP and Server 2003 systems as quickly as possible.

Microsoft rating: Important

  • MS14-003: Kernel-Mode Drivers Thread-owned Object Handling Vulnerability

As mentioned earlier, the kernel is the core component of any computer operating system. Windows also ships with a kernel-mode device driver (win32k.sys) which handles many kernel-level devices. The kernel-mode driver suffers from a unspecified vulnerability involving how it handles “thread-owned objects”. By enticing one of your users to run an evil program, or by gaining local access and running it himself, an attacker could exploit this flaw to gain complete control of your Windows computer. Since this flaw requires local access or user interaction, it poses only a medium risk. The flaw also only affects Windows 7 and Server 2008. Nonetheless, we recommend you patch as quickly as you can.

Microsoft rating: Important

Solution Path:

Microsoft has released various updates that correct all of these vulnerabilities. You should download, test, and deploy the appropriate updates throughout your network as soon as possible, especially the MS14-002 patch. If you choose, you can also let Windows Update automatically download and install them for you. As always, you should test your updates before deploying them. Especially, server related updates.

The links below point directly to the “Affected and Non-Affected Software” section of each bulletin, where you can find links to the various updates:

For All WatchGuard Users:

Both of these flaws require local access to exploit. While our XTM appliance’s gateway antivirus (GAV) service may sometimes find malware that may try and leverage these flaws, our network protection does not protect you from local exploits. Therefore, Microsoft’s updates are your best solution.

Status:

Microsoft has released patches correcting these issues.

References:

— This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

Hefty Patch Day Despite Light Microsoft Turnout

If any security professionals need quick reminder that the end-of-year holidays are over, and it’s time to get back to protecting information, Microsoft’s first Patch Day of the year will likely do that for you. However, the good news is Microsoft is giving us a slow start with only four security updates for January. Unfortunately, two other companies, Oracle and Adobe, have filled in the gaps with big updates of the own.

Let’s start with Microsoft.

According to their summary post, Microsoft released four bulletins today which fix security flaws in Windows, Office, and their Dynamics AX server (an enterprise resource planning or ERP solution).  They didn’t release any Critical bulletins this month, only ones with an Important rating; essentially their “medium” severity. Though vulnerabilities with this rating might be a bit more difficult to exploit (requiring local access or victim interaction), some of them could still allow remote attackers to gain full control of your users’ machines. In short, you should still takes these updates seriously despite the light load, and their less critical nature.

As far as priority, start with the Windows kernel vulnerability, as it fixes a zero day flaw that attackers are actively exploiting in the wild. Granted, the attackers exploiting it need local access to your computer to leverage the flaw, but if they do they gains full (SYSTEM) control of the PC. The remaining Windows and Office flaws are just about equal in severity. Which you focus on first is up to you. I’d probably consider the Office one since bad guys like using malicious documents in their spear phishing emails lately. Finally, the Dynamix AX update fixes a DoS flaw. I don’t suspect many smaller organizations use this product, and DoS flaws aren’t quite as severe as others. So save this one for last, if you happen to use the product.

With Microsoft done, your focus this month is probably better served with patching Adobe and Oracle products. Adobe’s patch day always falls on the same Tuesday as Microsoft’s. However, Oracle happens to follow a quarterly patch cycle, which only occasionally lines up directly with Microsoft’s Patch Day. Unfortunately, this is one such month, and you get to enjoy the unholy trifecta of patching three big corporations’ products at once. Yay (sarcasm)!

Today, Adobe has released updates for Reader, Acrobat, and Flash Player, and Oracle has released their huge Critical Patch Update, fixing over a hundred flaws in a wide variety of products. I’ll post more details about these updates later today, but for now you can check out Adobe or Oracles pre-announcement advisories if you want a head start.

I’ll post the detailed alerts for Microsoft’s Windows and Office updates shortly. Since I doubt the majority of customer use Dynamics AX, I don’t plan on posting a full alert for it, so if you use it be sure to check out Microsoft alert (MS14-004) yourself, and grab the corresponding updates. Stay tuned! — Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

Microsoft Patch Day Summary, Jan 2014

Cyber Sharking – WSWiR Episode 88

Tons of Patches, Facebook Scams, and Games for Security

If you’re in a country that celebrates the Christmas holidays, it’s probably getting a little quieter at work lately. With that extra free time, why don’t you catch up on the week’s latest security news with our regular episode of WatchGuard Security Week in Review?

Today’s show covers the patches from patch week, the latest NSA hijinks, a wide-spread Facebook phishing scam, and a story about how playing video games can help improve software security. Like always, I also include links to all these stories, and a few extras, in the references below.

Quick show note: I’ll be taking some time off for the holidays, so this may be the last video until next year (though a may release a short one next week). Keep safe out there, and have a happy holiday!

(Episode Runtime: 7:27)

Direct YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7325aKAWktg

Episode References:

Extras:

— Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

Trio of Office Updates Fix SharePoint Flaw & ASLR Bypass

Severity: High

Summary:

  • These vulnerabilities affect: Microsoft Office and related products, including SharePoint
  • How an attacker exploits them: Varies. Typically by enticing users to visit malicious web content or open Office documents
  • Impact: Many. In the worst case, an attacker can gain complete control of your Windows computer
  • What to do: Install the appropriate Microsoft patches as soon as possible, or let Windows Automatic Update do it for you

Exposure:

Today, Microsoft released three security bulletins that fix a like number of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office and related products like SharePoint. We summarize these security bulletins below, in order from highest to lowest severity.

  • MS13-100: SharePoint Code ExecutionVulnerability

SharePoint Server is Microsoft’s web and document collaboration and management platform. SharePoint, and some of its related components, suffer from an unspecified remote code execution flaw having to do with how it parses specially crafted page content. If an authenticated attacker can upload specially crafted content to your SharePoint server, he could leverage this flaw to execute code on that server with the W3WP (w3wp.exe) service account’s privileges.

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s alert doesn’t go into detail about the privileges associated with the W3WP services account. However, we’ve found that w3wp.exe often runs as a child process under svchost.exe, which runs with local SYSTEM privileges by default; potentially making this a complete system compromise. However, Microsoft assigns this particular flaw an Important severity rating, probably because the attacker needs valid SharePoint credentials to exploit it.

Microsoft rating: Important

  • MS13-104: Office Access Token Hijacking Flaw

When you login to an Office or Sharepoint server, the server verifies your credentials and then produces an access token, which allows you to continue accessing the server for a limited period of time. Office suffers from an unspecified flaw having to do with how it handles documents hosted on web sites. If an attacker can entice you into opening an Office document hosted on a malicious site, he could exploit this flaw to gain access to your access token, and then may be able to leverage that token to hijack your SharePoint of Office server sessions.

Microsoft rating: Important

Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) is a memory obfuscation technique that some operating systems use to make it harder for attackers to find specific things in memory, which in turn makes it harder for them to exploit memory corruption flaws. One of the shared components that ships with Office products doesn’t enable ASLR protection. This means attackers can leverage this particular component to bypass Windows’ ASLR protection features. This flaw alone doesn’t allow an attacker to gain access to your Windows computer. Rather, it can help make other memory corruption vulnerabilities easier to exploit. Since Internet Explorer (IE) loads this component, it’s particularly useful for attackers. This update fixes the ASLR bypass hole. If you’d like more details about this fix, and how it helps your overall Windows security, see this Microsoft blog post. Though Microsoft only gives this their medium severity rating, we recommend you apply the update quickly.

Microsoft rating: Important

As an aside, Microsoft also released a security bulletin (MS03-103) describing a flaw that primarily affects developers and organizations that specifically use the ASP.NET SignalR library. If you happen to use the ASP.NET SignalR library, do know it suffers from a relatively minor cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability, and you should update.

Solution Path:

Microsoft has released Office-related patches that correct all of these vulnerabilities. You should download, test, and deploy the appropriate updates throughout your network as soon as possible. If you choose, you can also let Windows Update automatically download and install these updates for you.

The links below point directly to the “Affected and Non-Affected Software” section of each bulletin, where you can find all of Microsoft’s update links:

For All WatchGuard Users:

WatchGuard’s eXtensible Threat Management (XTM) security appliances can help mitigate the risk of many of these vulnerabilities. For instance, you might use firewall policies to prevent external users from accessing your SharePoint server. Furthermore, Gateway Antivirus and Intrusion Prevention services can often prevent some of these types of attacks, or the malware these types of attacks try to distribute. Nonetheless, we still recommend you install Microsoft’s updates to completely protect yourself from these flaws.

Status:

Microsoft has released patches correcting these issues.

References:

This alert was researched and written by Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept).


What did you think of this alert? Let us know at your.opinion.matters@watchguard.com.

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