Sci-tech

Microsoft Issues Windows XP Security Updates for Previously Ignored NSA Hacking Tools

Microsoft Issues Windows XP Security Updates for Previously Ignored NSA Hacking Tools

Microsoft said that it has added improved defenses against the WannaCry ransomware and similar malware in the latest Windows update.

But while two security patches in the span of less than two months might leave Windows XP users with the assumption that Microsoft intends to provide them with enough security to delay an upgrade, they would be mistaken, according to Eric Doerr, general manager of Microsoft's Security Response Center. A day after the release, Microsoft revealed that it had issued patches that protected supported versions of Windows against the attacks.

Some of the bugs are several years old, and Microsoft officials said they're issuing the patches for them because of information suggesting they're at risk for exploitation by high-level attackers.

"Microsoft's decision to release security updates for the additional platforms today should not be interpreted as a change in policy". The company later issued updates to protect unsupported Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 operating systems. Microsoft is pushing organisations worldwide to update their old computers to newer operating systems.

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In February, Microsoft canceled a regular round of patches because of an unspecified "last-minute issue" that attracted a mountain of questions but few answers.

Microsoft has once again taken the extraordinary step of patching the out-of-support Windows XP, in an attempt to limit the scale of the next WannaCry-style attack. Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, which buys security bugs from researchers no longer buy bugs that exist exclusively on unsupported platforms, like Windows XP.

Whatever your reasoning for not getting off these unsupported systems, you need to take a serious look at the risks you are putting you and your data in these days because the threat landscape is much larger than it was in the days of XP and Vista.

Microsoft therefore did the world a favour - and that's what it was, no matter how you look at it - by retrofitting the patch for XP and making the update available to everyone. That consists of a five year period called Mainstream Support and then a follow on period of five more years for just security related updates. It stressed that older platforms lack the security features of their modern counterparts, even if they're kept up-to-date. Normally, patches for unsupported versions of Windows are available only for Microsoft customers on an expensive extended support contract. Tuesday's move suggests Microsoft may have good reason to believe attackers are planning to use EsteemAudit, ExplodingCan, and EnglishmanDentist in attacks against older systems.


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