Tag Archives: apple

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.

=======================
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.

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.

=======================
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
=======================
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.

=======================
Google Chrome:
=======================
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.

=======================
Nvidia Geforce Drivers:
=======================
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.

=======================
OpenSSL
=======================
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.

=======================
VMware
=======================
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.

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

=======================
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).

=======================
WinSCP
=======================
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

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

Thank you.

=======================
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.

=======================
Update: 16th January 2018:
=======================
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.

=======================
Update: 24th January 2018:
=======================
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
====================

=======================
Update: 13th February 2018:
=======================
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.

=======================
Update: 27th February 2018
=======================
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

=======================
Update: 1st April 2018
=======================
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:

=======================
Google ChromeOS:
=======================
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.

=======================
Sony Xperia:
=======================
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

=======================
Microsoft Issues Microcode Updates:
=======================
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.

=======================
Intel Firmware Updates:
=======================
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).

=======================
Microsoft Surface Pro:
=======================
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.

=======================
Microsoft Issues Further Security Update on the 29th March:
=======================
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.

=======================
Microsoft Offers Bug Bounty for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities:
=======================
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.

=======================
Update: 6th April 2018
=======================
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.

==================
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.”
==================

=======================
Update: 13th April 2018
=======================
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.

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

 

December 2017 Update Summary

Earlier this month Microsoft closed out the year with a small number of security updates. They resolved 32 vulnerabilities. Further details are provided within Microsoft’s new Security Updates Guide.

Sorry for not posting this sooner; travelling for my job meant my time was much more limited.

No Known Issues were listed as occurring for this months update.

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

Meanwhile Adobe also completed their yearly updates with a single update for Flash Player resolving a single priority 2 CVE (defined).

You can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use Secunia PSI:
—————
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 December Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
Critical severity:

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected)

Important severity:

Windows RRAS (Routing and Remote Access) Service Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

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

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.

Thank you.

=======================
VMware AirWatch Console and other VMware Products
=======================
A security advisory for VMware AirWatch Console to address a moderate security vulnerability was made available in December. A further security advisory to address 4 important vulnerabilities within the products listed below was also published:

  • ESXi
  • vCenter Server Appliance
  • Workstation
  • Fusion

=======================
Google Chrome:
=======================
An update for Google Chrome included 37 security fixes while a second update included 2 further fixes.

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.
=======================

=======================
Apple security updates:
=======================
During the first half of December Apple made available security updates for the following products:

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

Apple tvOS 11.2 and 11.2.1

Apple iOS 11.2 and 11.2.1

Apple watchOS 4.2

Apple Safari 11.0.2

Apple macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, Sierra and El Capitan

Apple iTunes 12.7.2 for Windows

AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.9 and AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.7.9

Apple iCloud for Windows 7.2

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

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).

=======================
Mozilla Firefox and Firefox ESR
=======================
During December Mozilla released security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) raising their version numbers to 57.0.2 and 52.5.2 respectively.

  • Firefox 57.0.2 resolves 1 CVE
  • Firefox ESR 52.5.2 resolves 2 CVEs.

As always full details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the following links:

Firefox 57.0.2
Firefox 52.5.2

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, please update it as soon as possible to resolve these security issues.

=======================
VideoLAN VLC:
=======================
In early December VideoLAN made available version 2.2.8 of VLC for Linux, Apple macOS  and Windows. It addresses 4 security vulnerabilities (3 of which were addressed in 2.2.7). If you use VLC, please update as soon as possible to address the above mentioned security vulnerabilities as well as the general software bugs that were resolved.

=======================
WinSCP
=======================
In mid-December; WinSCP version 5.11.3 was released upgrading it’s embedded OpenSSL version to 1.0.2n (which addresses 1x moderate and 1x low severity CVEs).

November 2017 Security Updates

Back in November; Microsoft released their routine monthly security updates. These updates resolved 53 vulnerabilities with 14 individual updates (which are grouped when downloaded). As always these are detailed within Microsoft’s new Security Updates Guide.

Sorry for not posting this sooner; travelling for my job meant my time was much more limited.

Microsoft have listed 6 Known Issues that can occur from Windows 7 up to and including Windows 10 (version 1703):

Windows 10 (versions 1511, 1607 and 1703 potentially impacted):

KB4048952: caused some Epson SIDM (Dot Matrix) and TM (POS) printers to lose the ability to print. This was later resolved by a further update; KB4053578

KB4048954:

could cause Internet Explorer 11 to not provide users of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) the ability to scroll through drop-down menus.

Windows Pro devices on the Current Branch for Business (CBB) will upgrade unexpectedly.

The above issue regarding Epson printers could also occur. All 3 of the above issues have been resolved. Please see KB4048954 for details of the additional updates containing the appropriate fixes.

KB4048953:

Details 2 of the above issues as well as an additional issue regarding an error message for the CDP User Service. Please see KB4048953 for details of the additional updates containing the appropriate fixes.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2:

KB4048958

Please see KB4048958 for details of the additional updates containing the appropriate fixes for the issues already discussed above.

KB4048961

Please see KB4048961 for details of an additional update containing the appropriate fix for an issue already discussed above.

Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard:

KB4048957

Please see KB4048957 for details of the additional updates containing the appropriate fixes for the issues already discussed above.

KB4048960

Please see KB4048960 for details of an additional update containing the appropriate fix for an issue already discussed above.

This month there are 4 Known Issues (kb4041691kb4042895 , kb4041676 and kb4041681) for this month’s Microsoft updates. 2 of these issues relate to an exception error dialog box appearing, with the others causing a black screen, updates not to install in express , a BSOD and changing of display languages. Microsoft states in each link above they are working on resolutions to these issues.

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

Adobe also made available their scheduled security updates for the following products:

Adobe Acrobat and Reader (priority 2, 56 CVEs)

Adobe Connect (priority 3, 5 CVEs)

Adobe DNG Converter (priority 3, 1 CVE)

Adobe Digital Editions (priority 3, 6 CVEs)

Adobe Experience Manager (priority 3, 3 CVEs)

Adobe Flash Player (priority 2, 5 CVEs)

Adobe InDesign CC (priority 3, 1 CVE)

Adobe Photoshop CC (priority 3, 2 CVEs)

Adobe Shockwave Player (priority 2, 1 CVE)

As always the priority updates are Flash Player first and Adobe Acrobat (in that order).

One point to note is that Adobe Acrobat 11 (or XI) / Reader 11 are now out of support from November onwards. These will be the final updates they receive. Adobe recommends upgrading to Adobe Acrobat DC or Reader DC (as appropriate). Apart from the different user interface of the DC version, possible privacy concerns were raised about one of the components of this newer version namely RdrCEF.exe (the purpose of which is described here). The suggestions to resolve these concerns were:

  • Adding cloud.adobe.com to your Hosts file (defined) to redirect it to localhost (defined) (to prevent it disclosing any private info)
  • Blocking RdRCEF.exe from accessing the internet using your software firewall

A list of changes to the Windows Registry (defined) were suggested in this forum thread but it is not clear if these are effective.

As always you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use Secunia PSI:
—————
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.

—————
If you use any of the above software, please install the appropriate updates as soon as possible. Steps for installing updates for Windows are provided on the “Protecting Your PC” page.

====================
For Novembers Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:
====================
Critical severity:

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected)

Microsoft Office Vulnerability : CVE-2017-11882 : was described as “extremely dangerous” by researchers at security firm Embedi to disclosed the vulnerability to Microsoft. In addition to installing the security update they recommend disabling the legacy equation editor to protect against future attackers against the code which does not benefit from the more secure coding practices.

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

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.

Thank you.

=======================
VMware Workstation, Fusion and Horizon View Client
=======================
A security advisory with details of how to obtain updates for the above mentioned products to address 6 CVEs was made available by VMware in November.

=======================
Google Chrome:
=======================
An update for Google Chrome included 2 security fixes while a second update included a further security fix,

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 2.4.3 and 2.2.11
=======================
v2.4.3: 3 CVEs (defined) resolved

v2.2.11: 3 CVEs resolved

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 (v2.4.3) or v2.2.11). 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.
=======================

=======================
Apple security update:
=======================
An updates was made available by Apple on the 29th of November for macOS High Sierra to resolve a critical security vulnerability that could have resolved in the creation of a root (defined) account on the affected system allowing an unauthorised user privileged access to that system. Further details of this vulnerability are available here. As discussed in that link, this security update should have been installed automatically (no user action required).

=======================
Mozilla Firefox and Firefox ESR
=======================
During November Mozilla released security updates for Firefox and Firefox ESR(Extended Support Release) raising their version numbers to 57 (and later to 57.0.1) and 52.5 respectively.

  • Firefox 57 resolves 15 security issues more formally known as CVEs (defined) while 57.0.1 resolves 2 CVEs.
  • Firefox ESR 52.5 resolves 3 CVEs.

As always full details of the security issues resolved by these updates are available in the following links:

Firefox 57 and Firefox 57.0.1
Firefox 52.5

Details of how to install updates for Firefox are here. If Firefox is your web browser of choice, please update it as soon as possible to resolve these security issues.

WPA2 KRACK Vulnerability: What you need to know

Last Sunday, the early signs of a vulnerability disclosure affecting the extensively used Wi-Fi protected access (WPA2) protocol were evident. The next day, disclosure of the vulnerability lead to more details. The vulnerability was discovered by  two researchers Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) while examining OpenBSD’s implementation of the WPA2 four way handshake.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
On Monday 16th October, the KRACK (key re-installation attacks) vulnerability was disclosed. This vulnerability was found within the implementation of the WPA2 protocol rather than any single device making it’s impact much more widespread. For example, vulnerable devices include Windows, OpenBSD (if not already patched against it), Linux, Apple iOS, Apple macOS and Google Android.

If exploited this vulnerability could allow decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking and if WPA-TKIP (defined) or GCMP (explained) are used; the attacker can inject packets (defined) into a victim’s data, forging web traffic.

How can an attacker exploit this vulnerability?
To exploit the vulnerability an attacker must be within range of a vulnerable Wi-Fi network in order to perform a man in the middle attack (MiTM)(defined). This means that this vulnerability cannot be exploited over the Internet.

This vulnerability occurs since the initial four way handshake is used to generate a strong and unique key to encrypt the traffic between wireless devices. A handshake is used to authenticate two entities (in this example a wireless router and a wireless device wishing to connect to it) and to establish the a new key used to communicate.

The attacker needs to manipulate the key exchange (described below) by replaying cryptographic handshake messages (which blocks the message reaching the client device) causing it to be re-sent during the third step of the four way handshake. This is allowed since wireless communication is not 100% reliable e.g. a data packet could be lost or dropped and the router will re-send the third part of the handshake. This is allowed to occur multiple times if necessary. Each time the handshake is re-sent the attacker can use it to gather how cryptographic nonces (defined here and here) are created (since replay counters and nonces are reset) and use this to undermine the entire encryption scheme.

How can I protect myself from this vulnerability?
AS described in this CERT knowledge base article.; updates from vendors will be released in the coming days and weeks. Apple (currently a beta update) and Microsoft already have updates available. OpenBSD also resolved this issue before the disclosure this week.

Microsoft within the information they published for the vulnerability discusses how when a Windows device enters a low power state the vulnerable functionality of the wireless connection is passed to the underlying Wi-Fi hardware. For this reason they recommend contacting the vendor of that Wi-Fi hardware to request updated drivers (defined).

Links to affected hardware vendors are available from this ICASI Multi-Vendor Vulnerability Disclosure statement. Intel’ security advisory with relevant driver updates is here. The wireless vendor, Edimax also posted a statement with further updates to follow. A detailed but easy to use list of many vendors responses is here. Since I use an Asus router, the best response I could locate is here.

======
Update: 21st October 2017:
Cisco have published a security advisory relating to the KRACK vulnerability for its wireless products. At the time of writing no patches were available but the advisory does contain a workaround for some of the affected products.
======

The above updates are software fixes but updates will also be made available for devices in the form of firmware updates e.g. for wireless routers, smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT)(defined) devices. For any wireless devices you own, please check with the manufacturer/vendor for available updates with the above CERT article and vendor response list detailing many of the common vendors.

Thank you.

Proton Trojan targeting Apple macOS discovered

Earlier this month Sixgill, a cyber intelligence company provided information on a recently discovered trojan for Apple macOS systems. It is being sold on the underground Russian cybercrime forums and acts as a remote administration tool (RAT)(defined). It sells under the name of Proton for 100 Bitcoin (more than USD$100,000) but now allows unlimited installations for 40 Bitcoin or a single installation for 2 Bitcoin.

Since the trojan is a RAT (discussed above) it allows an attacker to have full control of a victim’s system which includes controlling file uploads and downloads, monitoring keyboard presses, taking screenshots and webcam surveillance.

Sixgill theorizes the trojans developers bypassed/worked around Apple’s Developer ID program allowing this “application” to appear harmless while possibly exploiting an unknown zero day vulnerability (defined) within macOS to root privileges (defined) over the victim system.

How can I protect myself from this malware?
Since the trojan allows full control of an over an infected system, this will complicate removal since the attackers could easily attempt to resist or undo removal actions. Malwarebytes state this trojan is not in widespread use and they have been unable so far to obtain a sample of it. Moreover, VirusTotal did not have a sample to provide to them.

Apple added detections for this trojan to their XProtect (defined) anti-malware security feature; however as detailed in this TechRepublic article the trojans creators can easily modify it to avoid Apple’s signatures.

Further information on this trojan is available in this Softpedia article. TechRepublic provides a detailed list of recommendations within their article to prevent infection by this threat.

Thank you.