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Users still vulnerable to latest Windows security issue – latest advice on Windows patch management

It’s 2 weeks since the US National Security Agency (NSA) discovered a major flaw in Windows 10 that hackers could have used to create malicious software, but some users still haven’t patched their systems to resolve the issue.  Microsoft issued a fix for the CVE-2020-0601 vulnerability on the 14th January. Windows patch management is more important than ever and the NSA stated that anyone running Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019 is strongly encouraged to install the patch. The vulnerability could affect 900 million endpoints globally, but it does not affect older versions of the operating system.

“Users should apply the patch straightaway along with all available updates to keep their Windows machines secure.”

What’s the issue?

The issue exists in a component of Windows known as crypt32.dll. This is a program that software developers use to access various functions within Windows, such as digital certificates which are used to securely sign software. Understandably there is concern that hackers might take advantage of unpatched systems, especially if some businesses take a long time to update their systems. A hacker in theory could develop a piece of malicious software and use fake digital certificates to pass it off as being entirely legitimate.

Microsoft explained that the unauthorised use of a digital signature would mean that the user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider. In a tweet, the NSA advised about the vulnerability and encouraged Windows users to install the patch immediately:

You can find out more about the vulnerability from Microsoft here.

Get patched as soon as possible

Although there is no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited yet, it is deemed a major threat and users should apply the patch straightaway along with all available updates to keep their Windows machines secure. In an NSA advisory note the NSA mirrored this advice and said that it recommends installing all January 2020 Patch Tuesday patches as soon as possible to effectively mitigate the vulnerability on all Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and 2019 systems.  You can do this on a Windows 10 machine by clicking the Start button and navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

Windows Patch Management advice

Patches are essential cybersecurity tools and must be applied as soon as they become available, as a vulnerability can cause a wide range of security issues. Despite the urgency required to patch known vulnerabilities, businesses take on average 67 days[1] to apply a patch to a known vulnerability. This gives hackers a window of opportunity to exploit flaws in systems before they are patched by slower-acting businesses. Organisations can sometimes lack resources, expertise and time to carry out this important task but this should be prioritised in every company regardless of size.

Columbus offers IT support packages which includes Windows patch management, meaning that we are responsible for keeping your Windows PC’s and servers up to date with the very latest updates and patches giving you peace of mind. If you need advice or support to keep your systems up to date you can get in touch with the Columbus IT support team on 0333 240 7755 or use the button below. We would be delighted to help you.

[1] Source: edgescan vulnerability report 2018