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29 June 2017, 02:12 | Gerardo Harmon
Microsoft issues Windows XP critical patches amid 'elevated risk' of cyberattacks
The update was released as part of the company's regular Tuesday schedule. Microsoft never identified who informed them of the need to patch against the stolen tools. Although he was certain the old OS remains retired, he sensed that Microsoft opened a small Pandora's Box.
Microsoft patched the vulnerability exploited by WannaCry in its newer operating systems a month before The Shadow Brokers released the exploit. In a blog post, the company confirmed it wants allWindows customers to have the patches installed. Administrators often delay patching due to incompatibility with other applications.
The software giant did previously say that it wasn't going to patch these holes in older incarnations of Windows, but now appears to have thought better of that policy. But it remains to be seen if organizations will patch.
Microsoft also used the malware as an opportunity to plug for Microsoft Edge, its semifunctional non-browser that's good for maximizing battery life and not much else.
"It's probably already been exploited for months now", Dillon said. The company renewed its calls for all consumers, governments and organisations using unsupported Windows versions to upgrade to a newer version as soon as possible. Last month, they made the same move, and made many users question its objective. "We are committed to ensuring our customers are protected against these potential attacks and we recommend those on older platforms, such as Windows XP, prioritize downloading and applying these critical updates". It did not specify what country may be involved, and a spokesperson did not provide additional information.
On Tuesday, Adrienne Hall, general manager of the cyber defence operations centre at Microsoft, said in a blog-post that the updates have been released to the elevated risk of "nation-state actors" organisations.
"It was the right move by Microsoft", Dillon said. It doesn't want users to get infected on a mass scale. Craig Young, security researcher at infosec firm Tripwire, said: "Anyone still using Windows 2003 or XP should install these patches ASAP with the expectation that they will be actively exploited in the near term".
The updates can be found in the Download Center or in the Update catalogue. So long as Microsoft continues to protect Windows XP from the more serious threats in the wild, IT admins and businesses looking to save a few bucks can justify putting off an upgrade. Of those, almost 80 percent were MacOS systems. Windows XP was what they stuck to.
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