WannaCry ransomware attack: Microsoft releases security patch to prevent spread of malware

Microsoft includes Windows XP and Vista in June's Patch Tuesday updates

In hopes to avoid any more destructive cyberattacks, Microsoft has rolled out on Wednesday a host of security patches for Windows devices meant to obstruct malware attacks like resembling the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May. In the latest effort to protect Windows users from an elevated risk of cyber-attacks, Microsoft released its June's Patch Tuesday round of security updates.

"We have taken action to provide additional critical security updates to address vulnerabilities that are at heightened risk of exploitation due to past nation-state activity and disclosures", Microsoft stated.

Microsoft regularly issues security updates but it added a little something extra on Tuesday: it's letting all customers, even those using older versions of Windows, update their software.

The operating systems in question are Windows XP, which Microsoft ceased supporting in April 2014, and Windows Vista, which Microsoft ceased support for in March this year.

Well, here comes another one - or, rather, here comes another bunch of patches for XP and other superseded Microsoft products, closing yet more security holes that were made public by Shadow Brokers along with the exploit used by the creators of WannaCry.

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It should be remembered that Microsoft has now changed its regular Patch Tuesday update process.

Further guidance is available for Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2 and 2016, as well as the client operating systems Windows 7, 8.1, 8.1 RT, and Windows 10.

Topping the priority list should be zero-day vulnerabilities CVE-2017-8543 and CVE-2017-8464, both of which Microsoft said are being exploited in the wild. Microsoft is pushing organisations worldwide to update their old computers to newer operating systems.

Therefore, the vulnerabilities Microsoft is looking to patch don't just affect old, now unsupported OSes. Some, not able to finish the job in time and unwilling (or unable) to expose unpatched systems to possible attacks, pay princely sums to Microsoft for after-retirement custom support. A custom agreement is a fairly costly option that's purchased mostly by large organizations. It's important to note that all Windows users are getting these security updates, including those who are on currently-supported Windows software. "Windows XP is retired", Goettl said.

Tuesday's issuance of down-level patches is only the latest in a series of unusual events involving Microsoft's once-predictable security update regimen.

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These vulnerabilities are especially unsafe as regards older operating systems which don't receive updates anymore such as is the case with Windows XP.

"Our decision today to release these security updates for platforms not in extended support should not be viewed as a departure from our standard servicing policies", said the MSRC's Doerr.

Are you still using Windows XP?

Those patches are automatically being installed on more recent versions of Windows, provided that users didn't disable automatic updates.

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