Time to Patch


14
Jan 14

Security Updates for Windows, Java, Flash & Reader

Adobe, Microsoft and Oracle today each issued security updates to fix serious vulnerabilities in their products. Adobe released patches for AIR, Acrobat, Flash and Reader, while Microsoft pushed out fixes to shore up at least a half dozen security weaknesses in Windows and Office. Oracle released an update for Java that fixes at least three dozen security holes in the widely-used program.

crackedwinAll of the vulnerabilities that Microsoft fixed this month earned “important” ratings; not quite as dire as those labeled “critical,” which involve flaws so dangerous that they can be exploited by bad guys or malware to break into systems with no user interaction. Nevertheless, flaws marked “important” can be quite dangerous, particularly when used in tandem with other attack techniques.

By way of illustration, this month’s MS14-002 patch addresses an important zero-day flaw that was first found to be exploited in targeted attacks late last year. In one version of this attack, documented quite nicely in this fascinating yet somewhat technical writeup from Trustwave Spiderlabs, attackers used this Windows flaw in combination with a bug in Adobe Reader. According to Trustwave, the bad guys in that attack included the Windows flaw as a means of bypassing Adobe Reader’s security sandbox, a technology designed ensure that any malicious code embedded in documents only runs under limited privileges (i.e., isn’t allowed to invoke other programs or alter core system settings).

In short, don’t put off applying this month’s patches from Microsoft. They are available via Windows Update or Automatic Update. Also, Microsoft took this opportunity to remind Windows XP users that the company will no longer be supporting Windows XP after April 2014 (guess I will have to retire the above broken Windows graphic as well). The lack of ongoing security updates for XP means it will likely become an even bigger target for attackers; if you rely on XP, please consider transitioning to a newer operating system sometime soon. Who knows, it might be a great excuse to try Linux, which tends to be very light on resources and ideal for older hardware. If you’ve been considering the switch for a while, take a few distributions for a spin using one of dozens of flavors of Linux available via Live CD.

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10
Dec 13

Zero-Day Fixes From Adobe, Microsoft

Adobe and Microsoft today each separately released security updates to remedy zero-day bugs and other critical vulnerabilities in their software. Adobe issued fixes for its Flash and Shockwave players, while Microsoft pushed out 11 updates addressing at least two dozen flaws in Windows and other software.

crackedwinFive of today’s 11 update bundles earned Microsoft’s “critical” rating, meaning that the vulnerabilities those patches fix can be exploited remotely by malware or miscreants without any help from users. At the top of the priority list for Windows users should be MS13-096, a patch that plugs a critical zero-day security hole in certain versions of Windows and Office. Microsoft first warned about this flaw on Nov. 5.

Microsoft also is urging customers and system administrators to prioritize two other critical fixes:  MS13-097, a cumulative patch for Internet Explorer (all versions), and MS13-099, which fixes a dangerous scripting issue in Windows. All three of these patches fix bugs that Microsoft says are likely to be exploited by attackers in the near future.

Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering at Rapid7, points out a noteworthy patch (MS13-104) for users of Microsoft Office 2013′s “cloud” services, which apparently fixes another vulnerability that is actively being exploited. “This information disclosure issue affects the Office ‘client’ and could allow an attacker to hijack an authentication token and gain access to documents stored in cloud resources,” Barrett said.

For more information on today’s updates, see the roundups at Microsoft’s Technet Blog, the SANS Internet Storm Center Diary, and the Qualys blog.

 ADOBE FLASH AND SHOCKWAVE UPDATES

Adobe has issued a patch for its Flash Player software that addresses at least two security holes, including a vulnerability that is already under active attack. Adobe said it is aware of reports of an exploit designed to trick the user into opening a Microsoft Word document with malicious Flash (.swf) content. The company credits researcher Attila Suszter for reporting the flaw; more information about this bug is available at Suszter’s blog.

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2
Dec 13

Important Security Update for D-Link Routers

D-Link has released an important security update for some of its older Internet routers. The patch closes a backdoor in the devices that could let attackers seize remote control over vulnerable routers.

D-Link DI-524 router.

D-Link DI-524 router.

The update comes roughly seven weeks after researcher Craig Heffner discovered and blogged about a feature or bug built into at least eight different models of D-Link routers that could allow an attacker to log in as administrator and change the router’s settings. Although the router models affected are fairly old, there are almost certainly plenty of these still in operation, as routers tend to be set-it-and-forget-it devices that rarely get replaced or updated unless they stop working.

According to Heffner, an attacker who identified a vulnerable router would need merely to set his browser’s user agent string as “xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide”, and he could log in to the router’s administrative interface without any authentication. Heffer later updated his blog post with a proof-of-concept illustrating how attackers also could use the bug to upload arbitrary code to the vulnerable devices.

On Nov. 28, D-Link released a series of updates to fix the problem. Updates are available for the following models:

  • DI-524
  • DI-524UP
  • DIR-100
  • DIR-120
  • DI-604UP
  • DI-604+
  • DI-624S
  • TM-G5240

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12
Nov 13

Zero-Days Rule November’s Patch Tuesday

Microsoft today issued security updates to fix at least 19 vulnerabilities in its software, including a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer browser that is already being actively exploited. Separately, Adobe has released a critical update that plugs at least two security holes in its Flash Player software.

crackedwinThree of the eight patches that Microsoft released earned its most dire “critical” label, meaning the vulnerabilities fixed in them can be exploited by malware or miscreants remotely without any help from Windows users. Among the critical patches is an update for Internet Explorer (MS13-088) that mends at least two holes in the default Windows browser (including IE 11). MS13-089 is a critical file handling flaw present in virtually every supported version of Windows.

The final critical patch – MS13-090 — fixes essentially another IE flaw (ActiveX) that showed up in targeted attacks late last week. Microsoft says attackers used a second, “information disclosure” vulnerability in tandem with the ActiveX flaw, but that the company is still investigating that one. It noted that its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) tool successfully blocked the ActiveX exploit.

Nevertheless, it’s important for IE users to apply these updates as quickly as possible. According to Rapid7, exploit code for the ActiveX vulnerability appeared on Pastebin this morning.

“It was known to be under some targeted exploitation, but that will probably expand now that the exploit is public,” said Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering at Rapid7. “I would call patching this issue priority #1.” For what it’s worth, Microsoft agrees, at least according to this suggested patch deployment chart.

Today’s patch batch from Redmond did not include an official patch for yet another zero-day vulnerability that has been under active exploitation, although Microsoft did release a stopgap Fix-It tool last week to help blunt the threat. The company also is once again advising Windows users to take another look at EMET.

Check out Microsoft’s Technet blog for more information on these and other updates that the company released today.

brokenflash-aIn a separate patch release, Adobe issued a fix for its Flash Player software for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android devices. The Flash update brings the ubiquitous player to v. 11.9.900.152 on Mac and Windows systems. Users browsing the Web with IE10 or IE11 on Windows 8.x should get the new version of Flash (11.9.900.152) automatically; IE users not on Windows 8 will need to update manually if Flash is not set to auto-update.

To check which version of Flash you have installed, visit this page. Direct links to the various Flash installers are available here. Be aware that downloading Flash Player from Adobe’s recommended spot – this page – often includes add-ons, security scanners or other crud you probably don’t want. Strangely enough, when I visited that page today with IE10 , the download included a pre-checked box to install Google Toolbar and to switch my default browser to Google Chrome.

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16
Oct 13

Critical Java Update Plugs 51 Security Holes

Oracle has released a critical security update that fixes at least 51 security vulnerabilities in its Java software. Patches are available for Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows versions of the software.

Java7-45This update brings Java 7 to Update 45, and addresses a whole mess of security flaws. Oracle says that all but one of the 51 vulnerabilities fixed in this update may be remotely exploitable without authentication.

Updates are available from Java.com and the Java Control Panel. Apple has issued an update to its supported version of Java, which brings Java on the Mac to 1.6.0_65 for OS X 10.6.8 or later. As CNet notes, Apple is using this update to further encourage users to switch to Oracle’s Java runtime, especially for Web-based Java services.

“When this latest update is installed, according to Apple’s documentation it will remove the Apple-supplied Java plugin, and result in a ‘Missing plug-in’ section of a Web page that tries to run a Java applet,” CNet’s Topher Kessler writes. “If you click on the missing plug-in message, the system will direct you to Oracle’s Java Web site so you can download the latest version of Java 7, which will not only support the latest features in the Java runtime, but also include the latest bug and vulnerability fixes. Apple’s last supported version of Java is Java SE 6, and since handing the reigns over to Oracle, has progressively stepped back from supporting the runtime in OS X.”

Broken record alert: If you really need and use Java for specific Web sites or applications, take a few minutes to update this software. Oracle likes to remind everyone that 3 billion devices worldwide run Java, and that 89 percent of desktops run some form of Java (that roughly matches what vulnerability management firm Secunia found last year). But that huge install base — combined with a hit parade of security bugs and a component that plugs straight into the Web browser — makes Java software a perennial favorite target of malware and malcontents alike.

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8
Oct 13

Adobe, Microsoft Push Critical Security Fixes

Adobe and Microsoft today each issued software updates to fix critical security issues in their products. Microsoft released eight patch bundles to address 26 different vulnerabilities in Windows and other software – including not just one but two zero-day bugs in Internet Explorer. Adobe’s patches fix a single critical vulnerability present in both Adobe Acrobat and Reader.

crackedwinFour of the eight patch bulletins from Microsoft earned its most dire “critical” rating, meaning the updates fix problems deemed so severe that miscreants or malware could use them to break into vulnerable systems without any help from users. The patches impact a broad range of Microsoft products, including Windows, IE, SharePoint, .NET Framework, Office and Silverlight.

Front and center in the Microsoft patch batch is MS13-080, which addresses the zero-day IE vulnerability (CVE-2013-3893) that Microsoft first warned about on Sept. 17, as well as nine other security flaws in the default Windows Web browser. Amping up the threat level on this flaw, exploit code allowing attackers to leverage the flaw was released publicly last week as a module for the Metasploit exploit framework, a penetration testing toolkit.

Microsoft late last month released a stopgap “Fix It” solution to block exploits against the zero-day flaw, and the good news is that if you already applied that solution, you don’t need to undo those changes before applying this update. The bad news is that this isn’t the only zero-day vulnerability fixed in the IE patch bundle: Researchers at Trustwave Spiderlabs say they’ve confirmed that attackers are already exploiting one of the other flaws fixed in this IE update  (CVE-2013-3897).

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17
Sep 13

Microsoft: IE Zero Day Flaw Affects All Versions

Microsoft said today that attackers are exploiting a previously unknown, unpatched vulnerability in all supported versions of its Internet Explorer Web browser. The company said it is working on an official patch to plug the security hole, but in the meantime it has released a stopgap fix to help protect affected customers.

IEwarningMicrosoft said it is aware of targeted attacks that attempt to exploit the vulnerability (CVE-2013-3893) in IE 8 and IE 9 versions of the default Windows browser. According to an advisory issued today, the flaw is a remote code bug, which means malware or miscreants could use it install malware just by coaxing IE users to browse a hacked or malicious Web site.

The Fix It solution is available from this link. To apply it, click the Fix It icon above the Fix This Problem link. Applying this solution may limit some functionalities of IE, so if you run into problems after applying this interim patch, you can click the Fix It icon to the right of that “enable” button to reverse the update.

Update: As several readers have already noted in the comments, this Fix It solution is for 32-bit versions of IE only. In 64-bit Windows, you can tell whether the browser you’re using is a 32-bit or 64-bit version by opening the Windows Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and clicking the Processes tab. The number that appears after the process name (in this case, iexplore.exe) indicates the version in use.


10
Sep 13

Adobe, Microsoft Push Critical Security Fixes

Adobe and Microsoft each separately released a raft of updates to fix critical security holes in their software. Adobe pushed patches to plug holes in Adobe Acrobat/Reader and its Flash and Shockwave media players. Microsoft released 14 13 patch bundles to fix at least 47 security vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Sharepoint.

crackedwinFour of the 13 bulletins Microsoft released today earned the company’s “critical” rating, meaning that on balance they address vulnerabilities that can be exploited by miscreants or malware to break into vulnerable systems without any help from users.

For enterprises and those who need to prioritize the installation of updates, Microsoft recommends installing the Outlook, Internet Explorer and SharePoint Server fixes as soon as possible. The Sharepoint update addresses some ten vulnerabilities, including one that Microsoft says was publicly disclosed prior to today’s patch batch.

Adobe’s Flash update fixes at least four flaws in the widely-installed media player, and brings the player to version 11.8.800.168 for Mac and Windows users (users of other OSes please see the chart below). Google Chrome should auto-update itself to the latest version for Chrome (11.8.800.170 for Windows, Mac and Linux); Google says it is in the process of rolling out the update, although my test version of Chrome is still stuck at v. 11.8.800.97, even after installing updates for Chrome and restarting. Likewise, Internet Explorer 10 should auto-update to the latest version. To find out which version of Flash you have installed, see this page.

The most recent versions of Flash are available from the Adobe download center, but beware potentially unwanted add-ons, like McAfee Security Scan). To avoid this, uncheck the pre-checked box before downloading, or grab your OS-specific Flash download from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer will need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (FirefoxOpera, e.g.).

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13
Aug 13

Microsoft Patches Plug 23 Security Holes

Microsoft has issued security updates to fix at least 23 distinct vulnerabilities in its Windows operating systems and other software. Three of the patch bundles released today address flaws rated “critical,” meaning that malware or miscreants can use them to break into Windows PCs without any help from users.

crackedwinLeading the critical updates is a cumulative patch for Internet Explorer (MS13-059) that affects every version of the browser on nearly all supported versions of Windows. In its advisory, Microsoft warns it is highly likely that attackers will soon develop exploit code to attack the flaws addressed in this patch. Indeed, according to Ross Barrett, manager of security engineering at Rapid7, the IE patch addresses a vulnerability first demonstrated at the Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest conference in March of this year.

Another critical update, MS13-060, is a browse-and-get-owned font vulnerability that affects users on Windows XP and Server 2003.  The final critical patch, MS13-061, tackles several flaws in Microsoft Exchange that stem from a third-party component from Oracle called Outside In.

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12
Aug 13

Simple Hack Threatens Outdated Joomla Sites

If you run a site powered by the Joomla content management system and haven’t yet applied a critical update for this software released less than two weeks ago, please take a moment to do that: A trivial exploit could let users inject malicious content into your site, turning it into a phishing or malware trap for visitors.

joomlaThe patch released on July 31, 2013 applies to Joomla 2.5.13 and earlier 2.5.x versions, as well as Joomla 3.1.4 and earlier 3.x versions. Joomla credits discovery of the bug to Web security firm Versafe, which says a simple exploit targeting the vulnerability is already in use. Joomla versions 2.5.14 and 3.1.5. fix a serious bug that allows unprivileged users to upload arbitrary .PHP files just by adding a “.” (period) to the end of PHP filenames.

For 2.5.x and 3.x versions of Joomla, it is possible for anyone with access to the media manager to upload and execute arbitrary code simply by appending a period to the end of the file name they would like to run. For sites powered by unsupported versions of Joomla (1.5.x, and a cursory Google search indicates that there are tens of thousands of these 1.5.x sites currently online), attackers do not even need to have an account on the Joomla server for this hack to work.

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