Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

6/13/2019
08:40 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

BlueKeep RDP Vulnerability a Ticking Time Bomb

One month after Microsoft disclosed the flaw, nearly 1 million systems remain unpatched, and Internet scans looking for vulnerable systems have begun increasing.

The BlueKeep RDP vulnerability continues to be a ticking time bomb one month after Microsoft publicly disclosed the flaw.

New research from security vendor BitSight shows that close to 1 million systems with RDP exposed to the Internet remain unpatched and vulnerable to attacks.

Another report from Check Point Research this week notes a recent increase in scanning attempts for the flaw from multiple countries, which the company sees as a sign that some threat actors are conducting reconnaissance in preparation for an attack.

Multiple reports of proof-of-concept code becoming available for the flaw have also surfaced in recent weeks, adding to concerns that BlueKeep could soon be used to launch attacks similar in scale to the WannaCry and NotPetya outbreaks of 2017.

"It's surprising that organizations haven't been more efficient and diligent in patching this vulnerability, particularly given the ominous nature of the warning from both Microsoft and the NSA," says Jake Olcott, vice president at BitSight. It's hard to say what exactly might explain the lack of initiative, but poor visibility over deployed systems could be one reason, he says.

The most valuable piece one can take away from the report is the importance of examining an organization's vulnerabilities across the ecosystem, he says. "Too frequently, organizations are diligent when examining their own internal mechanisms but fail to audit risks within third-party systems along the supply chain, from contractors and vendors," Olcott says.

BlueKeep (CVE-2019-0708) is a critical remote code execution bug in the Remote Desktop Services Protocol in older and legacy versions of Windows, including Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Visa, and Windows Server 2008. Microsoft has described the flaw as giving attackers a way to gain complete control over a vulnerable system and to install programs, view, change, or modify data and create new accounts with full user rights. The bug does not require an attacker to be authenticated or for the user to take any action in order to be exploited.

"In other words, the vulnerability is 'wormable,'" the company said in an blog that urged companies to patch vulnerable systems quickly. "Any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017."

Microsoft considers the threat posed by BlueKeep to be so severe it issued patches even for Windows versions that it no longer supports but is widely used around the world. In an advisory last month, the NSA warned that it was "only a matter of time" before remote exploitation tools become available for BlueKeep and threat actors begin including the exploits in ransomware and exploit kits.

According to BitSight, a scan for externally observable systems with RDP showed that 972, 829 vulnerable systems still remain unpatched nearly a month after BlueKeep was first disclosed. Most of the unpatched systems are located either in China or the US. Other countries with a significant number of vulnerable systems include Germany, Brazil, Russia, France, and Great Britain.

The organizations that appear most vulnerable to the threat — based on the presence of at least one vulnerable system on their networks — include those in the telecommunications, education, and technology sectors, BitSight's scanning data shows. At the other end of the spectrum, organizations in the insurance, finance, legal, and healthcare industries appear to have made the most progress in patching BlueKeep or in having other mitigations against it.

In many ways, the threat associated with BlueKeep is similar to the threat posed by the EternalBlue bug that was exploited in the 2017 WannaCry campaign, BitSight says. The one difference is that a reliable exploit for EternalBlue became available almost as soon as the bug was disclosed.

In BlueKeep's case, there is no sign yet that an exploit has become publicly available. But there are reports of several proof-of-exploit-code being built by reverse-engineering the Microsoft patch.

Whether BlueKeep will result in attacks similar to those enabled by EternalBlue depends on how the exploit is delivered, Olcott says. "If it's exploited within enough vulnerable systems, it certainly could be as impactful as EternalBlue," he says. "A lot of that impact depends on the delivery method of the exploit — such as a worm — and how many devices it can impact at one time."

Related Content:

 

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-27132
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
SerComm AG Combo VD625 AGSOT_2.1.0 devices allow CRLF injection (for HTTP header injection) in the download function via the Content-Disposition header.
CVE-2021-25284
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in through SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. salt.modules.cmdmod can log credentials to the info or error log level.
CVE-2021-3144
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
In SaltStack Salt before 3002.5, eauth tokens can be used once after expiration. (They might be used to run command against the salt master or minions.)
CVE-2021-3148
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. Sending crafted web requests to the Salt API can result in salt.utils.thin.gen_thin() command injection because of different handling of single versus double quotes. This is related to salt/utils/thin.py.
CVE-2021-3151
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
i-doit before 1.16.0 is affected by Stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) issues that could allow remote authenticated attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, C__M...