Attacks/Breaches

3/30/2018
03:55 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Microsoft Rushes Out Fix for Major Hole Caused by Previous Meltdown Patch

Issue affects Windows 7 x64 and Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 systems.

Microsoft has rushed out an out-of-cycle security patch to address problems created by what were supposed to be fixes for the Meltdown vulnerability that it had previously issued for 64-bit Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems.

In an advisory Thursday, the company urged anyone running Windows 7 for x64 systems or Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based systems to immediately install the new update. The advice applies to all organizations and users that have installed any of Microsoft's security updates during or after January 2018.

The update for CVE-2018-1038 stems from a warning by Swedish penetration tester Ulf Frisk that Microsoft's Meltdown patch for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 created a bigger hole than the one the patch was designed to fix.

The patch basically allowed any running process on these systems to read the complete contents in memory and to write to it as well. "Exploitation was just a matter of read and write to already mapped in-process virtual memory," Frisk said. "No fancy APIs or syscalls required — just standard read and write." The problem stemmed from a permission bit in a key memory table being set in "user" mode rather than "supervisor" mode.

"This made the page tables available to user-mode code in every process," rather than only by the kernel itself, Frisk said.

Chris Goetti, director of product management at Ivanti, says the vulnerability created by the Microsoft patch is pretty significant and something that needs to be addressed with haste, if possible.

"When Microsoft issued a fix for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, they made a mistake and ended up opening up read and write access in RAM so anybody could access anything in memory and write to it," he says. "It is a significant vulnerability and leaves those systems pretty much exposed" without the update.

At this point, those with affected systems should test the new patch quickly and roll it out. Another option for those that don't have the time to test the new patch will be to roll back the March update and wait for Microsoft's April update, which is due April 11.

"We are close to the April update," Goetti says. "Our guidance is to either apply the new update or roll back the March update," for Windows 7 x64-bit systems and Windows Server 2008 x64-bit systems, he says.

Organizations should not make the mistake of assuming the issue is related to Meltdown/Spectre and wait for things to settle down, cautions Jack Danahy, CTO and co-founder of Barkly. "This is an easy-to-exploit zero-day vulnerability and a much more probable attack vector that the original problem that Microsoft was trying to correct."

Unlike problems created by Spectre and Meltdown, "this isn't just a cleanup exercise. Microsoft accidentally distributed a new zero-day vulnerability of their own design."

The error is an example of the kind of issues that can crop up when things are rushed, he says. Fixing bugs is akin to serious software development, and it creates the same opportunities for mistakes, Danahy notes.

"I think that this will only serve to further deteriorate organizational willingness to apply patches automatically and without their own testing," he says. "I'm personally hoping that everyone deploys this patch to CVE-2018-1038, because this vulnerability is so easy to exploit that there are already exploit toolkits integrating it."

Related Content:

 

Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop ITX. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop ITX 2018 agenda here.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
'PowerSnitch' Hacks Androids via Power Banks
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/8/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-20161
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
A design flaw in the BlinkForHome (aka Blink For Home) Sync Module 2.10.4 and earlier allows attackers to disable cameras via Wi-Fi, because incident clips (triggered by the motion sensor) are not saved if the attacker's traffic (such as Dot11Deauth) successfully disconnects the Sync Module from the...
CVE-2018-20159
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
i-doit open 1.11.2 allows Remote Code Execution because ZIP archives are mishandled. It has an upload feature that allows an authenticated user with the administrator role to upload arbitrary files to the main website directory. Exploitation involves uploading a ".php" file within a "...
CVE-2018-20157
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
The data import functionality in OpenRefine through 3.1 allows an XML External Entity (XXE) attack through a crafted (zip) file, allowing attackers to read arbitrary files.
CVE-2018-20154
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated users to discover all subscriber e-mail addresses.
CVE-2018-20155
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated subscriber users to bypass intended access restrictions on changes to plugin settings.