Tag Archives: Apple macOS

July 2018 Update Summary

Earlier this month, Microsoft made available their usual monthly security updates. This month 53 vulnerabilities more formally known as CVEs (defined) were resolved.

Among these updates are further updates for Spectre NG vulnerabilities (also known as Speculative Store Bypass vulnerabilities) making them available for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 in addition to last month’s updates. The vulnerability known as Lazy Floating Point (FP) was also addressed this month. Finally the Spectre 1.1. and Spectre 1.2 vulnerabilities will be discussed in a separate blog post.

This month’s Microsoft updates have a long list of Known Issues detailed in the knowledge base (KB) articles listed at the abovel ink (due to the length I won’t reproduce it here). At the time of writing some of these issues have begun to be addressed by further updates (Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10) released by Microsoft. Others relating to the .Net Framework should be addressed soon.

====================

This month also saw Adobe release an update (priority 2) for Adobe Acrobat DC and Reader DC which addresses 104x CVEs alone. The remaining updates made available this month were:

Adobe Connect (priority 2, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Experience Manager (priority 2, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Flash (priority 2, 2x CVEs)

For Flash, updates for Google Chrome (not a separate update but via its component updater), Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer were made available. As always if you use any of the above Adobe software, please update it as soon as possible especially in the case of Flash and Acrobat DC/Reader DC.

As always; you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page:
—————
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here:

====================

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))(a previous update from May may need a further non-security fix)

Microsoft PowerShell Editor Services

====================
Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Please find below summaries of other notable updates released this month.

Thank you.

=======================
Oracle:
=======================
Oracle issued updates to resolve a monthly record of 334 vulnerabilities. Further details and installation steps are available here. 8 vulnerabilities affect the Java runtime; all of which are remotely exploitable without an attacker needing to obtain a user’s username and password (their credentials).

If you use any of the Oracle products listed here, please install the appropriate security updates as soon as possible.

=======================
Apple:
=======================
In early July released a group of updates to resolve a large number of vulnerabilities:

Wi-Fi Updates for Boot Camp 6.4.0: Addresses 3x vulnerabilities

Apple iOS 11.4.1: Addresses 22x vulnerabilities

Apple tvOS 11.4.1: Addresses 18x vulnerabilities

Apple watchOS 4.3.2: Addresses 14x vulnerabilities

macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, Security Update 2018-004 Sierra, Security Update 2018-004 El Capitan: Addresses 12x vulnerabilities (also resolves the Intel Lazy FP vulnerability)

Apple Safari 11.1.2: Resolves 16x CVEs

Apple iCloud 7.6 for Windows: Resolves 14x CVEs

Apple iTunes 12.8 for Windows: Resolves 14x CVEs

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

=======================
Google Chrome:
=======================
Google released Google Chrome version 68.0.3440.75 to address 42 vulnerabilities. This version also marks all HTTP sites as “not secure.” This Google blog post discusses the change in more detail and this migration guide will be of assistance to website owners in migrating to HTTPS.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 stacked small horizontal lines, sometimes called a “hamburger” button) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

=======================
Wireshark 2.4.8 and 2.6.2
=======================
v2.4.8: 10 security advisories

v2.6.2: 9 security advisories

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v2.6.1) or v2.4.7). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

Intel Lazy Floating Point Vulnerability: What you need to know

====================
Update: 24th July 2018:
====================
I have updated the list of vendor responses below to include further Red Hat versions and CentOS:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6:
https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2018:2164

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 7:
https://access.redhat.com/solutions/3485131

CentOS 6:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-July/022968.html

CentOS 7:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-June/022923.html

====================

On Wednesday of last week, a further vulnerability affecting Intel CPUs (defined) was disclosed.

TL;DR: Keep your operating system up to date and you should be fine.

What makes this vulnerability noteworthy?
According to Intel’s security advisory; this is an information disclosure issue. Similar to Spectre/Meltdown the flaw is the result of a performance optimization (used when saving and restoring the current state of applications as a system switches from one application to another). A feature known as Lazy Floating Point (defined) Unit (FPU) is used to save and restore registers (defined) within the CPU used to store floating point numbers (non-integers numbers, namely decimal numbers).

The issue is that these registers may be accessed by another application on the same system. If the registers are storing for example results of performing cryptographic equations for a key you have just created or used to decrypt data, the attacker could use this data to infer what the actual key is. The same applies for any type of data the registers store; that data can be used to infer what the previous contents were via a speculative execution side channel.

This vulnerability has been rated as moderate since it is difficult to exploit via a web browser (in contrast to Spectre) and the updates will be a software update only; no microcode (defined) and/or firmware (defined) updates will be necessary. With exploitation via a web browser being difficult; this vulnerability will likely instead be exploited from the victim system (at attacker will need to have already compromised your system).

How can I protect myself from this vulnerability?
Please note; AMD CPUs are NOT affected by this vulnerability.

The following vendors have responded to this vulnerability with software updates now in progress. Separately Red Hat has completed their updates for Red Hat Linux 5, 6 and 7 (with further applicable updates still in progress).

Other vendors responses are listed below. Thank you:

Amazon Web Services

Apple (currently release notes for an update to macOS to resolve the vulnerability)

DragonFlyBSD

Intel’s Security Advisory

Linux

Microsoft Windows

OpenBSD

Xen Project

June 2018 Update Summary

=======================
Update: 12th June 2018:
=======================
As scheduled Microsoft released their monthly security updates earlier today resolving 50 vulnerabilities. Further details are available within their Security Updates Guide.

In addition; there are 5 knowledge base articles detailing potential issues (all of which are pending resolutions) you may experience upon installing these updates. They are listed below for your reference:

4284819
4284835
4284826
4284867
4284880

====================
Adobe have not released any further updates since their out of band (un-scheduled) update last week.

As always; you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page.
—————
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here courtesy of BleepingComputer:
====================

CVE-2018-8267 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability (a zero day (defined) vulnerability disclosed last month)

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (similar to many other months; multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))

CVE-2018-8225 | Windows DNSAPI Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

CVE-2018-8231 | HTTP Protocol Stack Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (especially if your server hosts a Microsoft IIS installation)

====================
Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

=======================
Original Post:
=======================
I usually write this post on or very shortly after Update Tuesday (the second Tuesday) of the month but with an Adobe Flash zero day vulnerability (defined) already patched and given that Mozilla have also released an update this month; I felt an earlier post would be appropriate.

I’ll update this post as further updates are made available. Thank you.

=======================
Mozilla Firefox:
=======================
Early in June Mozilla made available security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release):

6th June: Firefox 60.0.2 and Firefox ESR 52.8.1 and Firefox ESR 60.0.2: Resolves 1x high CVE (defined). This was a heap buffer overflow.

Further details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the link above. Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to resolve these security issues.

In the final week of June Mozilla made available security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release):

=======================
26th June:
=======================
Firefox 61: Resolves 6x critical CVEs (defined), 5x high CVEs, 6x moderate CVEs, 1x low CVE

Firefox ESR 60.1: Resolves 5x critical CVEs, 4x high CVEs and 6x moderate CVEs.

Firefox ESR 52.9: Resolves 2x critical CVEs, 4x high CVEs, 3x moderate CVEs.

Further details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the links above. Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to resolve these security issues.
=======================

=======================
Update: 19th June
=======================
=======================
Apple Security Updates: Update: 19th June
=======================
Following Apple’s release of security updates in the final days of May; they have made available further updates detailed below:

macOS High Sierra 10.13.5, Security Update 2018-003 Sierra, Security Update 2018-003 El Capitan: Resolves 39x CVEs (defined)

Safari 11.1.1: Resolves 14x CVEs

Apple iCloud for Windows (version 7.5): Resolves 17x CVEs

Apple Xcode version 9.4.1: Resolves 2x CVEs

Apple SwiftNIO 1.8.0: Resolves 1 CVE (For your reference: What is Apple SwiftNIO?)

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

Please find below summaries of other notable updates released this month.

Thank you.

=======================
F-Secure Security Products:
=======================
As mentioned in a previous post; 7-Zip has been updated to version 18.05 to resolve a vulnerability in it’s RAR packing code. The F-Secure products listed in this security advisory utilise this 7-Zip DLL (defined) and are thus being updated for the same reason.

If you use these F-Secure products, please install this critical update as soon as possible.

=======================
Google Chrome:
=======================
Google released Google Chrome version 67.0.3396.87 to address 1 vulnerability.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 stacked small horizontal lines, sometimes called a “hamburger” button) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

=======================
VMware
=======================
VMWare issued updates for the following products on the 11th and 28th of June to address 1 and 3 vulnerabilities respectively:

11th June:

  • VMware AirWatch Agent for Android (A/W Agent)
  • VMware AirWatch Agent for Windows Mobile (A/W Agent)

26th June:

  • VMware vSphere ESXi (ESXi)
  • VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
  • VMware Fusion Pro, Fusion (Fusion)

Please review the above linked to security advisories and apply the necessary updates if you use these products.

=======================
OpenSSL
=======================
On the 12th of June; the OpenSSL Foundation issued updates for OpenSSL to address 1x low security vulnerability detailed in this security advisory. To resolve this please update your OpenSSL installations to 1.1.0i or 1.0.2p (as appropriate).

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

=======================
Intel Lazy Floating Point Vulnerability:
=======================
Please see my separate post for details.

April 2018 Update Summary

====================
Update: 5th April 2018:
====================
On the 3rd of April, Microsoft released an out of band security update for the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine. Further details are available in this separate blog post.

Other updates made available by Microsoft for the Spectre Variant 2 vulnerability are:

kb4073119

kb4093112

If any of the above updates apply for your version of Windows, please install them. If the updates are already present or are not required; the installation will not proceed when you manually attempt it.

====================
Separately Microsoft have since issued an update, KB4099950 to resolve the issue detailed below affecting the network adapter on Windows 7.

The new update KB4099950 must be installed before KB4088875 and KB4088878 (I assume if this is not the case that KB4088875 and KB4088878 could be uninstalled first?)

If you were experiencing any of the following issues on Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, please install the above update to resolve them:

====================
A new Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) that has default settings may replace the previous NIC and cause network issues.

Static IP address setting are lost.

These symptoms may occur on both physical computers and virtual machine that are running VMware.
====================

Thank you.

====================
Update: 1st April 2018:
====================
Microsoft have issued an out of band update for Windows 7 SP1 64 bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64 bit to resolve a regression (an un-intentional coding error resulting in a previously working software feature no longer working, alternative definition here) which introduced an additional elevation of privilege (defined) security vulnerability in the kernel (defined) of these Windows version, please see my new post for further details.

This post has also been updated with further software releases (please see below).

If you have already checked for updates and are not seeing any being offered for your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system, please ensure your anti-malware software is up to date. This article explains why this change was implemented by Microsoft. It also provides recommendations of how to resolve the issue of no updates being available. Windows 10 is not affected by this issue.

A known issue of a second network adapter appearing within Windows 7 has also been documented. If this occurs for you with March’s updates, this news article may be of assistance in resolving it. It is anticipated that Microsoft will resolve this issue in this month’s upcoming security updates.

Thank you.

====================
Original post:
====================
On Tuesday, 10th April Microsoft made available their scheduled security updates to resolve 63 vulnerabilities assigned to the same number of CVEs (defined). Microsoft have provided further details are provided within their Security Updates Guide.

There are 3 knowledge base articles detailing potential issues (some of which are pending resolutions) you may experience upon installing these updates. They are listed below for your reference:

4093112

4093118

4093108

====================

Alongside these updates; Adobe released updates for the following products:

Adobe ColdFusion (priority 2, 5x CVEs)

Adobe Digital Editions (priority 3, 2x CVEs)

Adobe Experience Manager (priority 3, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Flash Player v29.0.0.140 (priority 2, 6x CVEs)

Adobe InDesign CC (priority 3, 2x CVEs)

Adobe PhoneGap Push Plugin (priority 3, 1x CVE)

Non-Microsoft browsers should update automatically e.g. Google Chrome should release a browser update in the coming days or will use their component update feature. Microsoft issued a security advisory containing details of their updates

As always; you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page (since Secunia PSI will be phased out on the 20th of April):
—————
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here:
====================

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (similar to last month multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))

Microsoft Graphics Component consisting of the following 6 CVEs:

CVE-2018-1009

CVE-2018-1010

CVE-2018-1012

CVE-2018-1013

CVE-2018-1015

CVE-2018-1016

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 850 Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability : described in more detail here.

====================

Separately AMD have issued microcode (defined) updates for Windows 10 Version 1709 to enhance the protection of their customer’s against variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) of the Spectre vulnerability. Further details of these updates are available within these KB articles: KB4093112 and KB3073119

Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

=======================

=======================
Apple Security Updates:
=======================
In late April Apple released updates for Safari, macOS and iOS:

Apple iOS v11.3.1

Apple Safari v11.1

Apple macOS High Sierra v10.13.4

=======================

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

=======================
7-Zip 18.05
=======================
In late April; version 18.05 of 7-Zip was made available resolving one security vulnerability in it’s RAR packing code. Further details are provided in this linked to blog post.

Other highlights include the inclusion of ASLR on the 32 bit version and high entropy (HE)(defined here and here) ASLR (defined) on the 64 bit version. While the above blog post mentions HEASLR is not enabled, when I tested it with Process Explorer it was showing HEASLR as enabled. That blog post also describes how to add Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG) (defined) protection for 7-Zip on Windows 10. Version 18.01 and later also come with Data Execution Prevention (DEP)(defined here and here).

While 7-Zip is extremely popular as a standalone application; other software such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, VMware Workstation and Directory Opus (among many others) all make use of 7-Zip. If you use these software applications or 7-Zip by itself, please update these installed applications to benefit from the resolved vulnerability and the new mitigations.

=======================
Wireshark 2.4.6 and 2.2.14
=======================
v2.4.6: 10 security advisories

v2.2.14: 8 security advisories

The security advisory wnpa-sec-2018-24 applicable to both of the above versions resolves 10 memory leaks (defined).

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v2.4.6) or v2.2.14). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

=======================
Wireshark 2.6.0
=======================
While this update is not listed as a security update; it is the latest version of Wireshark within the Stable release channel. The older 2.4.x version did not receive a further update. It is very likely version 2.6 will be required to receive future security updates. Further details are available in the release notes of version 2.6. If possible, please consider upgrading to this version in the near future.

Further installation tips are provided above (as per version 2.4.6 and 2.2.14).

=======================
Oracle:
=======================
Oracle issued updates to resolve 254 vulnerabilities. Further details and installation steps are available here. 14 vulnerabilities affect the Java runtime. 12 of these are remotely exploitable without an attacker needing to obtain a user’s username and password (their credentials).

If you use any of the Oracle products listed here, please install the appropriate security updates as soon as possible.

=======================
OpenSSL
=======================
In mid April; the OpenSSL Foundation issued updates for OpenSSL to address 1x low security vulnerability detailed in this security advisory. To resolve this please update your OpenSSL installations to 1.1.0i or 1.0.2p (as appropriate).

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

=======================
A Closer Look at CVE-2018-0950
=======================
While Microsoft have addressed the vulnerability designated as CVE-2018-0950 (defined) this month; Will Dormann, a security researcher with the CERT Coordination Center has demonstrated further mitigations (defined) you may wish to take. These mitigations (listed at the end of his in-depth discussion) will better defend your system(s) against a variant of this vulnerability which still remains relatively easy for an attacker to exploit.

Thank you.

Pwn2Own 2018 Results

Earlier this month the annual Pwn2Own white hat (defined) hacking contest took place, shortened from 3 days to 2 days.

This year’s competition was also impacted by a recent regulatory change meaning that Chinese participants were unable to attend. This is unfortunate since previous yeas competitions have been excellent and this had a real impact on the success of this year’s competition; perhaps next years will be better? Further details of the regulatory change are detailed here.

The following products were successfully exploited this year resulting in USD$267k being awarded. Exploits which could not be completed in the allocated time of 30 minutes were also purchased; which is fair in my opinion since they could still be a threat and the researchers more than deserve the credit for the time and effort they invest.

Similar to previous years; kernel (defined) exploits were used each time to exploit the web browsers due to the sandboxing (defined) technology used to security harden them.

As noted in this article (and my previous blog posts) kernels are becoming even more complex and can easily consist of millions of lines of code. My previous advice of static analysis/auditing/fuzzing (defined here and here) still applies. These won’t detect every vulnerability but will significantly reduce them. As before writing more secure code using the development practices discussed in last year’s Pwn2Own post will reduce the vulnerability count even further; both now into the future.

Just like last year Mozilla updated Firefox very quickly; this time in less than a day to version 59.0.1 and 52.7.2 ESR.

I’ll update this post as the vulnerabilities disclosed during the contest are addressed. The full list of products exploited is provided below. Thank you.

=======================
Apple Safari (2 attempts were successful using macOS kernel elevation of privilege (defined) vulnerabilities

Microsoft Edge

Mozilla Firefox

Oracle VirtualBox
=======================

March 2018 Update Summary

====================
Update: 5th April 2018:
====================
On the 3rd of April, Microsoft released an out of band security update for the Microsoft Malware Protection Protection Engine. Further details are available in this separate blog post.

====================
Separately Microsoft have since issued an update, KB4099950 to resolve the issue detailed below affecting the network adapter on Windows 7.

The new update KB4099950 must be installed before KB4088875 and KB4088878 (I assume if this is not the case that KB4088875 and KB4088878 could be uninstalled first?)

If you were experiencing any of the following issues on Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, please install the above update to resolve them:

====================
A new Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) that has default settings may replace the previous NIC and cause network issues.

Static IP address setting are lost.

These symptoms may occur on both physical computers and virtual machine that are running VMware.
====================

Thank you.

====================
Update: 1st April 2018:
====================
Microsoft have issued an out of band update for Windows 7 SP1 64 bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64 bit to resolve resolve a regression (an un-intentional coding error resulting in a previously working software feature no longer working, alternative definition here) which introduced an additional elevation of privilege (defined) security vulnerability in the kernel (defined) of these Windows version, please see my new post for further details.

This post has also been updated with further software releases (please see below).

If you have already checked for updates and are not seeing any being offered for your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system, please ensure your anti-malware software is up to date. This article explains why this change was implemented by Microsoft. It also provides recommendations of how to resolve the issue of no updates being available. Windows 10 is not affected by this issue.

A known issue of a second network adapter appearing within Windows 7 has also been documented. If this occurs for you with March’s updates, this news article may be of assistance in resolving it. It is anticipated that Microsoft will resolve this issue in this month’s upcoming security updates.

Thank you.

====================
Original post:
====================
Last Tuesday Microsoft began distributing their scheduled security updates to resolve 74 vulnerabilities assigned to the same number of CVEs (defined). Microsoft have provided further details are provided within their Security Updates Guide.

This month there are 12 knowledge base articles detailing potential issues (some of which are pending resolutions) you may experience upon installing these updates. They are listed below for your reference:

4088787

4088782

4088776

4088786

4088779

4088876

4088879

4088875

4088878

4089344

4089229

4090450

====================

In addition to these updates; Adobe released updates for the following products:

Adobe Connect (priority 3, 2 CVEs)

Adobe Dreamweaver CC (priority 3, 1 CVE)

Flash Player v29.0.0.113 (priority 2, 2 CVEs)

Non-Microsoft browsers should update automatically e.g. Google Chrome released an update on Tuesday which includes the new Flash Player. Microsoft issued a security advisory containing details of their updates

As always; you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page (since Secunia PSI will be phased out very soon):
—————
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here:

====================

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))

Windows Shell (CVE-2018-0883)

CredSSP (CVE-2018-0886): Please also enable the Group Policy setting to fully mitigate this issue. Further updates will be made available in subsequent months.

Microsoft Office (consisting of CVE-2018-0903 and CVE-2018-0922)

====================

Similar to last month additional updates for Spectre vulnerability were made available for Windows 10 Version 1709. Further updates are planned and will be listed in this knowledge base article.

Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Thank you.

===============

=======================
Mozilla Firefox:
=======================
This month Mozilla issued 3 sets of security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release):

16th March: Firefox 59.0.1: Resolves 2x critical CVEs (1 of which originated from Pwn2Own 2018).

13th March: Firefox 59: Resolves 2x critical CVEs, 4x high CVEs, 7x moderate CVEs, 5x low CVEs

13th March: Firefox ESR 52.7: Resolves 2x critical, 3x high CVEs, 2x moderate CVEs

26th March: Firefox 59.0.2: Resolves 2x high severity CVEs

26th March: Firefox 52.7.3 ESR: Resolves 1x high severity CVE

Further details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the links above. Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, if you have not already done so, please update it as soon as possible to resolve these security issues.

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Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
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Earlier this month Malwarebytes made available version 3.4.4 of their anti-malware product. While the update provides stability and performance improvements it also updates the 7-Zip DLL (defined) within it to version 18.01.

Please install this update using the steps detailed in this Malwarebytes forum post. Further details of the improvements made are available in this BleepingComputer article.

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Google Chrome:
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This month Google made available 4 updates for Google Chrome; one in early March and the other in mid-March. The more recent updates resolves 45 security issues while the update from the 20th of March resolves 1 security issue.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 stacked small horizontal lines, sometimes called a “hamburger” button) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

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Nvidia Geforce Drivers:
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This update (released on the 28th of March 2018) applies to Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris and Windows and resolves up to 8 security vulnerabilities. The steps to install the drivers are detailed here. I detailed where Nvidia list their security advisories in a previous blog post.

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OpenSSL
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On the 27th of March; the OpenSSL Foundation issued 2 updates for OpenSSL to address 1x moderate security vulnerability and 2x low severity issues as detailed in this security advisory. To resolve these issues please update your OpenSSL installations to 1.1.0h or 1.0.2o (as appropriate).

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

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VMware
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VMWare issued update for the following products on the 15th of March to address one important severity security vulnerability:

  • VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
  • VMware Fusion Pro / Fusion (Fusion)

Please review this security advisory and apply the necessary updates.

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Apple security updates:
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In the final week of March Apple made available security updates for the following products:

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Apple tvOS 11.3

Apple iOS 11.3

Apple watchOS 4.3

Apple Safari 11.1

Apple macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, Sierra and El Capitan

Apple iTunes 12.7.4 for Windows

Apple iCloud for Windows 7.4
=======================

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

Further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

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WinSCP
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In late March; WinSCP version 5.13.1 was released upgrading it’s embedded OpenSSL version to 1.0.2o (which addresses 1x moderate CVE).

Responding to the Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

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Please scroll down for more updates to this original post.
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Update: 23rd May 2018:
====================
For information on the Spectre NG vulnerabilities please refer to this new blog post

Thank you.

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Original Post:
=======================
Earlier in January updates for Linux, Apple and Windows were made available to work towards addressing the 3 security vulnerabilities collectively known as Meltdown and Spectre.

Why should these vulnerabilities be considered important?
I’ll provide a brief summary of the two categories of vulnerabilities:

Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754): This is the name of the vulnerability discovered that when exploited by an attacker could allow an application running with standard privileges (not root or elevated privileges) to read memory only intended for access by the kernel.

Spectre (Variant 1: CVE-2017-5753 ; Variant 2: CVE-2017-5715): This is a category of two known vulnerabilities that erode the security boundaries that are present between applications running on a system. Exploitation can allow the gathering of information from applications which could include privileged information e.g. usernames, password and encryption keys etc. This issue can be exploited using a web browser (e.g. Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge (or IE) by using it to record the current time at very short intervals. This would be used by an attacker to learn which memory addresses were cached (and which weren’t) allowing the attacker to read data from websites (violating the same-origin policy) or obtain data from the browser.

Browser vendors have responded by reducing the precision of JavaScript timing and making it more unpredictable while other aspects of JavaScript timing (using the SharedArrayBuffer feature) have been disabled.

More in-depth (while still being less technical) descriptions of these issues are available here , here and here.

How can I protect myself from these vulnerabilities?
Since these vulnerabilities are due to the fundamental architecture/design of modern CPUs; it is not possible to fully address them. Instead a combination of software fixes and microcode updates (defined) is more a viable alternative than re-designing the established architecture of modern CPUs.

In-depth lists of updates available from multiple vendors are available here and here. I would suggest glancing at the affected vendors and if you own a device/product from them; checking if you are affected by these vulnerabilities. A list of BIOS (defined) updates from multiple vendors are available here. Google Chrome has a Site Isolation mode that can mitigate these vulnerabilities which will be more comprehensively addressed in Chrome version 64 scheduled for release last this month.

At this time my systems required updates from Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple, VMware, Asus, Lenovo and Nvidia. Many of many existing desktops are unlikely to receive microcode and BIOS updates due to be more than 3 years old. However my Windows 10 laptop has received a BIOS update from the manufacturer.

Are there disadvantages to installing these updates?
While these updates increase security against these vulnerabilities; performance issues and stability issues (Intel and AMD) after the installation of these updates have been reported. These vary in severity but according to Intel and Microsoft the updates will be refined/optimised over time.

Benchmarks (for desktops) made available by TechSpot show negligible impact on most tasks that would stress a CPU (defined). However any work that you perform which makes of large files e.g. databases may be significantly impacted by the performance impact these updates have when accessing files on disk (mechanical and solid state). For laptops the slowdown was felt across almost all workload types. Newer and older silicon were inconsistently impacted. At times even some Intel 8th generation CPUs were impacted more than 5th generation CPUs.

Details of the anticipated performance impact for Linux, Apple macOS (and iOS) and Windows are linked to. Further reports of reduced performance from Intel and Apple devices have also been recorded. Further details of a feature known as PCID (Process-Context Identifiers) within more recent CPUs which will help reduce the performance impact are provided here. For Intel CPUs, 4th generation Core CPUs and later should include it but any CPU manufactured after 2011 should have it (one of my CPUs; a Core i7 2600K has this feature, verified using Sysinternals Coreinfo). A full list of Intel CPUs affected by these vulnerabilities is here.

Conclusion:
With the widely reported stability and performance issues present it is your decision if you install the necessary updates now or wait until further refinements. If you experience issues, please report them to the manufacturers where possible and within online forums if not. More refined updates will only be created if a need to do so is established.

I’m in the process of updating my systems but will benchmark them before and after each updates to determine an impact and make a longer term decision to keep the updates or uninstall them until further versions become available. I’ll update this post as I gather more results.

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Update: 16th January 2018:
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A newly released free utility from Gibson Research (the same website/author as the well-known ShieldsUp firewall tester) named InSpectre can check if your Windows system has been patched against Meltdown and Spectre and can give an indication of how much the performance of your system will be affected by installing and enabling the Windows and/or the BIOS updates.

Please note: I haven’t tried this utility yet but will this weekend (it will help with the tests I’m carrying out (mentioned above). I’ll update this post when I have tried out this utility.

Thanks again.

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Update: 24th January 2018:
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As promised I gathered some early results from a selection of CPUs and the results for all but recent CPUs are evidence they will experience a potentially noticeable performance drop:

====================
CPUs supporting PCID (obtained using Sysinternals Coreinfo):
Intel Core i7 Extreme 980X @ 3.33 GHz
Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.8 GHz
Intel Core i5 4590T @ 3.3 GHz
Intel Core i7 6500U (laptop CPU) @ 2.5 GHZ

CPUs supporting INVPCID (obtained using Sysinternals Coreinfo):
Intel Core i5 4590T @ 3.3 GHz
Intel Core i7 6500U (laptop CPU) @ 2.5 GHZ
====================

Explanations of the purpose and relevance of the PCID and INVPCID CPU instructions are available from this Ars Technica article. The results from InSpectre only show positive results when both PCID and INVPCID are present backing up the observations within the above linked to Ars Technica article (that the updates take advantage of the performance advantages of these instructions when both are present).

The results from InSpectre back up these findings by stating that the 980X and 2600K will not deliver high performance protection from Meltdown or Spectre. Since my PCs are mainly used for more CPU intensive tasks (rather than disk intensive) e.g. games and Folding@Home; I still don’t expect too much of a performance decrease. The older CPUs are due for replacement.

You may ask; “why am I so concerned with the performance impact of these updates?” The answer is that significant time and investment has been made into the above systems for them to perform at peak performance for the intended tasks I use them for. Performance and security are both very important to me and I believe there should only be a small trade off in performance for better security.

My next step will be to benchmark the CPU, hard disk and GPU of each system before and after installing each update. I will initially do this for the 6500U and 2600K systems and provide these results. The categories of updates are listed below. I will keep you informed of my findings.

Thank you.
====================
Update 1: Software updates from Microsoft for Meltdown and Spectre
Update 2: Firmware update (where available)
Update 3: Nvidia / AMD GPU driver update
====================

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Update: 13th February 2018:
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Sorry for the long delay (I was travelling again for my work). The above benchmarking is now taking place and I will make the results available as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding.

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Update: 27th February 2018
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Earlier last week Intel made available further microcode updates for more CPUs. These updates seek to address variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability (CVE-2017-5715). Updates are now available for the CPUs listed below.

As before, please refer to the manufacturer of your motherboard of your system for servers, desktops and laptops or the motherboard manufacturer for any custom built systems you may have to determine if these updates have been made available for your specific systems. Further information for corporate system administrators containing details of the patching process is available within this link (PDF):

  • Kaby Lake (Intel 7th Generation Core CPUs)
  • Coffee Lake (Intel 8th Generation Core CPUs)
  • Further Skylake CPUs (Intel 6th Generation Core CPUs)
  • Intel Core X series (Intel Core i9 CPUs e.g. in the 7900 and 7800 model range)
  • Intel Xeon Scalable (primarily targeted at data centres)
  • Intel Xeon D (primarily targeted at data centres)

Information on patches now available for OpenBSD and FreeBSD are located within the following links:

OpenBSD:
OpenBSD mailing list
The Register: OpenBSD Patch now Available

FreeBSD:
FreeBSD Wiki
Softpedia: Spectre and Meltdown mitigations now available

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Update: 1st April 2018
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As vendors have responded to these vulnerabilities; updates have been released for many products. I will describe these updates in more detail below. Apologies if I have omitted any, this isn’t intentional but the list below should still be useful to you:

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Google ChromeOS:
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Following the release of ChromeOS 64 in February which provided updates against the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, ChromeOS 65 includes further mitigations against these vulnerabilities including the more efficient Retpoline mitigation for Spectre variant 2.

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Sony Xperia:
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In late February Sony made available updates which include mitigations for Meltdown and Spectre for their Xperia X and Xperia X Compact phones which brings the build number to 34.4.A.2.19

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Microsoft Issues Microcode Updates:
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As previously mentioned when this blog post was first published; updates for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are made up of software updates, microcode updates and firmware (BIOS updates) and GPU drivers.

Due to the complexity of updating the firmware of computer systems which is very specific and potentially error prone (if you apply the wrong update to your device it can render it useless, meaning it will need to be repaired/replaced (which is not always possible) Microsoft in early March began to issue microcode driver updates (as VMware describes they can be used as substitutes for firmware updates). Microcode updates have been issued in the past to address CPU reliability issues when used with Windows.

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Intel Firmware Updates:
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As with previous microcode updates issued by Intel in late February; these updates seek to resolve variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability (CVE-2017-5715).

While Intel has issued these updates; they will be made available separately by the manufacturer of your motherboard of your system for servers, desktops and laptops or the motherboard manufacturer for any custom built systems you may have. You will have to determine from the updates those vendors issue if they are available for the products that you own.

Unfortunately not all systems will receive these updates e.g. most recent system was assembled in 2014 and has not received any updates from the vendor; the vendor has issued updates on their more recent motherboards. Only my 2016 laptop was updated. This means that for me; replacing the systems gradually is the only means of addressing variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability.

Intel’s updates are for the Broadwell (5th generation CPUs i.e. 5000 series) and Haswell (4th generation CPUs i.e. 4000 series).

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Microsoft Surface Pro:
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Earlier this week Microsoft released firmware updates for their Surface Pro which mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. This link provides further details and how to install the updates.

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Microsoft Issues Further Security Update on the 29th March:
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As noted in my separate post; please refer to that post for details of a security update for Windows 7 SP1 64 bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64 bit that resolve a regression (an un-intentional coding error resulting in a previously working software feature no longer working, alternative definition here) which introduced an additional elevation of privilege (defined) security vulnerability in the kernel (defined) of those Windows versions.

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Microsoft Offers Bug Bounty for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities:
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Microsoft have announced bug bounties from $5000 to $250,000 to security researchers who can locate and provide details of exploits for these vulnerabilities upon Windows, Azure and Microsoft Edge.

If such a programme is successful it could prevent another instance of needing to patch further related vulnerabilities after the issues have been publicly disclosed (defined). This is sure to assist the system administrators of large organisations who currently in the process of deploying the existing updates or who may be testing systems on a phased basis to ensure performance is not compromised too much.

Further details are available from this link.

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Update: 6th April 2018
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Earlier this week, Intel issued a further progress update for the deployment of further microcode for their CPUs.

A further 5 families of CPUs have now completed testing and microcode updates are available. These families are:

    • Arrandale
    • Clarkdale
    • Lynnfield
    • Nehalem
    • Westmere

==================
However a further 9 families will not receive such updates for the reasons listed below. Those families are:

      • Micro-architectural characteristics that preclude a practical implementation of features mitigating [Spectre] Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715)
      • Limited Commercially Available System Software support
      • Based on customer inputs, most of these products are implemented as “closed systems” and therefore are expected to have a lower likelihood of exposure to these vulnerabilities.

==================

      • Bloomfield
      • Clarksfield
      • Gulftown
      • Harpertown Xeon
      • Jasper Forest
      • Penryn
      • SoFIA 3GR
      • Wolfdale
      • Yorkfield

This announcement from Intel means my Intel Core i7 Extreme 980X (from 2010) won’t receive an update. This system isn’t used very much on the internet and so the impact is limited. I am hoping to replace this system in the near future too.

Recommendations:

Please review the updated PDF made available by Intel (I can upload the PDF to this blog if Intel place it behind an account which requires sign in. At this time the PDF link still works).

As before; please monitor the websites for the manufacturer of your system for servers, desktops and laptops or the motherboard manufacturer for any custom built systems you may have to determine if these updates have been made available for your specific systems.

Thank you.

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BranchScope Vulnerability Disclosed:
In a related story; four security researchers from different universities responsibly disclosed (defined) a new side channel attack affecting Intel CPUs. This attack has the potential to obtain sensitive information from vulnerable systems (a similar result from the existing Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities).

Further details of this attack named “BranchScope” are available in this Softpedia article and this paper from the researchers. Within the above article Intel responded to this attack stating that this vulnerability is similar to known side channel and existing software mitigations (defined) are effective against this vulnerability. Their precise wording is provided below.

Thank you.

==================
An Intel spokesperson has provided the following statement:

“We have been working with these researchers and have determined the method they describe is similar to previously known side channel exploits. We anticipate that existing software mitigations for previously known side channel exploits, such as the use of side channel resistant cryptography, will be similarly effective against the method described in this paper. We believe close partnership with the research community is one of the best ways to protect customers and their data, and we are appreciative of the work from these researchers.”
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Update: 13th April 2018
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AMD have issued microcode (defined) updates for Windows 10 Version 1709 to enhance the protection of their customer’s against variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) of the Spectre vulnerability. Further details of these updates are available within these KB articles: KB4093112 and KB3073119

Thank you.

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Update: 18th May 2018
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Please refer to the beginning of the May and April security update summaries for further updates related to addressing Spectre variant 2 (v2).