Tag Archives: Shadow Brokers

June 2017 Security Updates Summary

Yesterday Microsoft and Adobe made available their monthly scheduled security updates.

Microsoft’s addressed a large number of vulnerabilities, 94 in total more formally known as CVEs (defined). These are detailed within Microsoft’s new Security Updates Guide.

At the time of writing there are three Known Issues for this month’s Microsoft updates (although all three knowledge base articles (4022717, 4022726, 4022715) describe the same iSCSI availability issue which is currently awaiting a resolution). The IT Pro Patch Tuesday blog hasn’t been updated since April and isn’t of assistance this time (and for that reason is becoming increasingly irrelevant).


This month again breaks the usual trend with these updates to offer a collection of updates for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 which address the remaining vulnerabilities disclosed by the ShadowBrokers hacking team back in April this year. The majority of these updates were already released for more modern versions of Windows after the end of support dates for Windows XP (April 2014) and Windows Server 2003 (July 2015) respectively. Please review the detailed security advisory to download the appropriate updates for your systems. Further information is available in Microsoft’s blog posts here and here.

As with the update made available in May, these updates will not be available via Microsoft Updates or Automatic Updates. The availability of these updates provides mixed meanings; namely that while they were made available is positive. However for those corporations, organisations and individuals sing out dated versions of Windows, it provides them less reasons to migrate since it hints at an attitude that Microsoft will patch those system if the situation get very bad. While Microsoft worked to dispel this point, not everyone will be aware of their statement on this matter.

In a further break from the routine of Update Tuesday, I wanted to mention a further set of vulnerabilities found in Windows Defender which Microsoft patched last month. Please ensure your version of Windows is using the patched version of Windows Defender as detailed in this news article to address these issues.

Separately Adobe made available four security bulletins to updates for the following products:

Adobe Captivate (1x priority 3 CVE)

Adobe Digital Editions (9x priority 3 CVEs)

Adobe Flash (9x priority 1 CVEs)

Adobe Shockwave Player (1x priority 2 CVE)

The priority ratings are explained in this link. Depending on which version of Flash Player you have, please review the Adobe security bulletin or Microsoft bulletin (the link includes “April” in the URL but it is not a typo) as appropriate and apply the recommended updates. Google Chrome users should have the updated version installed automatically later this week (if not already available).

If you use any of the above-mentioned Adobe products, please review the security bulletins linked to above and apply the necessary updates. As per the established process the Flash update should be installed as soon as possible since exploit kits (defined) tend to take advantage of newly disclosed vulnerabilities very quickly.


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):


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 the Microsoft updates this month, I will prioritize the order of installation for you below:
Critical severity:

Windows Search

Windows Lnk

Windows Graphics

Microsoft Edge (CVE-2017-8498CVE-2017-8530 and CVE-2017-8523) and Internet Explorer

Microsoft Office  (CVE-2017-0260 and CVE-2017-8506)

Microsoft Outlook

Install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As always you can find detailed information on the contents of each security bulletin within ComputerWorld’s Patch Tuesday Debugged column.

Another security pre-caution that you may wish to take if you have Microsoft EMET (please ensure your version of EMET is the most recent version 5.52) installed is to use it to protect you from Adobe Flash being used to exploit vulnerabilities when you open a Microsoft Office document or Adobe PDF file. I provide recommendations of how to do this at the end of the July 2015 Update Summary. Please note that Microsoft EMET will be out of support on the 31st of July 2018.

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.

Update: 14th June 2017:
I wish to provide information on other notable updates from June 2017 which I would recommend you install if you use these software products. I only choose a small number of products to list here since it can easily become too many and I wish to highlight the security benefits of installing the latest version of applications many of us use everyday:

Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 54.0

Mozilla Firefox ESR:
Firefox ESR 52.2

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.

Google Chrome:
Google Chrome: includes 30 security 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 update to take effect.

Wireshark 2.2.7 and 2.0.13
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 (v2.2.6) or v2.0.13). 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.

Responding to Wana Decrypt0r / WanaCrypt0r Infections

As I am sure you are aware earlier this week a new variant of ransomware named WanaCrypt0r began to infect many systems worldwide using the vulnerability patched in March 2017. The infections were especially severe in the UK (hospitals were affected), Spain (banks, the ISP Telefonica and gas/electricity providers) among many others. The infections were spreading in a worm (defined) like fashion.

The ransomware uses the vulnerability exploited by the “Eternal Blue” exploit patched by Microsoft in Mach by their MS17-010 update. This exploit uses the SMBv1 (defined) protocol to enter a vulnerable system over port 445 (when that port is accessible from the internet). In some instances the CERT of Spain have observed the exploit installing the DoublePulsar malware on the already infected system. A live map of this malware’s global infections is available here. Once the malware obtains access to your system it installs the WanaCrypt0r ransomware to encrypt your files. As detailed by BleepingComputer it also terminates active databases and email servers so that it can encrypt them also.

On the 12th of May, the spread of the malware was temporarily halted by the actions of the malware researcher known as MalwareTech. They registered a website domain the malware checks if it exists while installing itself on your system. If it exists, it halts its installation and doesn’t encrypt your data (acting like a “kill switch”). I use the word temporary above since as the researcher points out all the malware authors need to do is to choose a different domain and re-release the updated malware (or worse they could use a domain generation algorithm (DGA)(defined) to make registering the websites by researchers even harder). The purpose of the malware checking if this domain was registered is to check if it is running inside a malware sandbox (defined).

How can I protect myself from this threat?
If you have not already done so, please install the MS17-010 security update (released in March 2017) on your Windows based servers and workstations. Researchers are simply saying “patch your systems” and that is what they mean. Microsoft discusses this advice in more detail in their MSRC blog post.

A full list of the versions of Windows affected by vulnerabilities patched within MS17-010 is provided at the end of this post.

If you are not sure how to update your systems, the following links below will assist if you are consumer/small business. Larger corporations should check with their IT team/system administrators install this update. If you can, please install all other remaining security updates:

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows 8.1

Windows 10

Microsoft have since released the MS17-010 update for all other remaining out of support Windows systems namely Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8.0. They are available as direct downloads from their MSRC blog post. I checked earlier today and these updates were not being offered by Windows Update and Automatic Updates for those older versions of Windows, please obtain the updates directly from their MSRC blog post.

While the “kill switch”for this malware was used (as mentioned above), it is very likely to return in the future. The steps below will better prepare you now and for the future.

I am aware Windows Vista is out of support at this time but it was supported when the MS17-010 update was released.

Update: 15th May 2017:
It is appears a new variant (Uiwix) of this threat is now circulating which does not have a kill switch. This variant does not appear to spread using a different vulnerability. Other variants are currently in-progress.

Update: 18th May 2017:
As mentioned above, newer variants of this malware are being made available. They exploit the same vulnerability as WannaCry but don’t spread in a worm like fashion.

I would suggest installing the MS17-010 as soon as possible since further ransomware is likely to capitalise on many devices (approximately 1 million still exposing the SMB protocol to the internet, with roughly 800k being Windows devices).

Moreover, the ShadowBrokers may release more exploits next month (and continue to do so on a regular basis) but this time we are unlikely to have security updates ready for them. My advice is to be prepared in June.

Thank you.

Update: 21st May 2017:
The Eternals Rocks worm is now also spreading by exploiting exposed systems over SMB. The advice below to block installation of WannaCrypt should prevent infection of your systems. At this time, the worm is not carrying out malicious actions with infected devices. Instead it is setting up a C&C (C2)(defined) infrastructure and may leverage this for malicious actions in the future.

Bayer healthcare equipment was confirmed affected by WannaCry but service was restored in less than 24 hours. Other manufacturers have also issued security advisories:


Smiths Medical


Johnson & Johnson

The US ICS CERT have issued an alert with recommendations for critical infrastructure devices. Affected vendors include those mentioned above and GE, Philips, Tridium, Emerson Automaton Solutions, Schneider Electric (among others).

Please note the above link for the ICS CERT advisory is https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/alerts/ICS-ALERT-17-135-01D If this advisory is updated it will become https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/alerts/ICS-ALERT-17-135-01E Further updates will change the final letter to F, G and so on.

ICS CERT also issued an FAQ on WannaCry which you may find useful.

Additional advice/considerations:
At this time there is no known way to decrypt your files if you have been effected by the WanaCrypt0r ransomware. If you have the option of restoring your files from a backup, please do so. Your only other option is discussed by BleepingComputer at the end of this article.

If you followed the advice earlier in the week and turned off your systems before they were infected, that was a wise precaution. However when you power them back on you will need to avoid them becoming infected before you can secure them. A French security researcher had a honeypot (defined) of theirs infected 6 times in 90 minutes.

If you can segregate your vulnerable devices (including devices within your network perimeter) so they don’t expose the following ports:

  • TCP port 445 with related protocols on UDP ports 137-138
  • TCP port 139
  • Also disable SMBv1 (it’s a deprecated protocol)
  • Please also block the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) port 3389 (defined) at the entry point to your corporate to prevent the spread of this malware as recommended by the US CERT.

Once you have updated your Windows devices against this vulnerability, please by all means resume normal operations but follow the advice of the US CERT and avoid having the SMB port exposed to the internet going forward as a defense in-depth measure (defined)(PDF).

Other recommendations are as follows:

  • It’s important to understand, installing the update mentioned in this post will protect your Windows systems from spreading the ransomware to other systems. If you click on a link in a suspicious email (or another source) the ransomware may still be downloaded but will only encrypt/effect your system.
  • For any critical systems, ask if they really need to be connected to the internet or not? Avoid unnecessarily connecting them.
  • Provide your staff with security awareness training (defined)(PDF). This will prevent this malware infecting your systems by means of phishing (defined) (which can still encrypt your data even if you have installed the above recommended security update, that update only blocks the spreading of the infection). According to the US CERT and HelpNetSecurity this advice isn’t confirmed but it will not reduce your protection.
  • Verify your organization can recover from a ransomware attack like this as part of your Business continuity process (BCP)(defined)(PDF).
  • If you have an incident response team, verify their standard response process against a ransomware attack like this to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Thank you.


Affected Windows versions:
While the MS17-010 security bulletin lists which versions of Windows are vulnerable to this ransomware, I have listed them all below (this applies to all 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows listed below):

Windows XP (with Service Pack 3)

Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2)

Windows Vista (with Service Pack 2)

Windows Server 2008 (with Service Pack 2)

Windows Server 2008 (with Service Pack 2)(Server Core installation)(defined)

Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1)

Windows Server 2008 R2 (with Service Pack 1)

Windows Server 2008 R2 (with Service Pack 1)(Server Core installation)

Windows 8.0

Windows 8.1 (with 8.1 Update (April 2014))

Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 (Server Core installation)

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 (Server Core installation)

Windows RT 8.1

Windows 10 Version 1507

Windows 10 Version 1511

Windows 10 Version 1607

Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 (Server Core installation)

DoublePulsar exploit: victim devices are widespread

Last month the hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers made available a set of exploits (this appears to be their last remaining set). These exploits allegedly came from the NSA. A full list of the exploits is available here. Microsoft’s analysis of the exploits made which applies to their products and which security updates resolve them are available here.

What is DoublePulsar and how does it affect a system?
The exploit from this recently released collection which targets the Windows SMB Server component of Windows is known as DoublePulsar. It is a kernel mode (or ring zero (defined)) exploit which provides an attacker with full control over an affected system as well as providing a backdoor (defined).

It is also allows the execution of shellcode (defined) and the downloading of further malware. A complete list of it’s capabilities is available from Symantec’s analysis.

This threat is being called similar to the MS08-067 vulnerability from October 2008 which lead to widespread installation of the Conficker malware (which still persists today). That article estimates this vulnerability will be with us for many years to come. In my professional career I still see large numbers of servers and workstations not patched against the MS08-067 vulnerability even after all these years. The exploits made available by the Shadow Brokers have been made easy to use by others posting YouTube videos and documentation of how to use them. Security researchers are tracking the spread of this malware here , here and here.

How can I protect myself from this threat?
Preventing a compromise by this threat:

If your servers or workstations have Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista (respectively) or newer installed, please install Microsoft’s security update MS17-010 as soon as possible. As a defense in-depth measure (defined)(PDF), please also consider blocking port 445 from being accessed externally (since this is unlikely to be the last SMB exploit we see).

Please note, Windows Vista systems are also no longer supported and you should consider upgrading (if you are not already in the process of doing so). Windows Server 2008 will be supported until the 13th of January 2020.

Update: 19th May 2017:
With the rapid propagation of the WannaCry ransomware, Microsoft made available the MS17-010 update for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8.0. The updates for these out of support operating systems are available from Microsoft’s blog post.

Once the update is installed, if your servers or workstations have Window Server 2003 or Windows XP (respectively) installed, please block port 445 (the Windows SMB protocol port) from being accessed from an external network (as previously recommended by US-CERT and mentioned in a past blog post of mine).

In addition to blocking port 445 as mentioned above, I would also suggest the following:

If you can, segregate your vulnerable devices (including devices within your network perimeter) so they don’t expose the following ports:

  • TCP port 445 with related protocols on UDP ports 137-138
  • TCP port 139
  • Also disable SMBv1 (it’s a deprecated protocol)
  • Please also block the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) port 3389 (defined) at the entry point to your corporate to prevent the spread of this malware as recommended by the US CERT.

To check if your system has been compromised by Double Pulsar, you can use this tool.

Removing the threat from a compromised system:
You can remove the infection simply by shutting the system down since the malware does not persist after a reboot. You can then patch the vulnerability and block access to port 445 to prevent the malware from returning (both as mentioned above).

Thank you.

US CERT Warns of Possible SMB Zero Day Vulnerability

Earlier this month saw the end of operations for a group known as the Shadow Brokers (who were responsible for the disclosure of critical security vulnerabilities in enterprise networking infrastructure). Their online auction of exploits remains open.

Among the exploits for sale is a possible zero day (defined) SMB (defined) exploit for Windows. With the potential use of this exploited predicted, the US-CERT issued a security advisory, which suggested disabling SMB version 1 and disabling the use of SMB version 2 at the network perimeter (preventing external access or internal traffic reaching outside of the corporate network). As previously noted on this blog, securing the use of SMB version 2 in this manner will also protect against the Redirect to SMB vulnerability.

These recommendations should better secure your corporate network against this exploit as well as future vulnerabilities.

Thank you.

Cisco Networking Devices Affected By Disclosed Exploits

Earlier this month Cisco made available 2 security advisories (please see below for the relevant links) that relate to the public disclosure of security vulnerabilities within their and other vendors’ products by a hacking group known as Shadow Brokers.

This group released exploits that targeted routers and firewalls from vendors such as Cisco, Juniper and Fortinet.

Further coverage of how these exploits were disclosed are available within the following links:

Cisco Acknowledges ASA Zero Day Exposed By Shadowbrokers (Threatpost)

Shadowbrokers’ Leak Has ‘Strong Connection’ To Equation Group (Threatpost)

Hacking group claims to offer cyber-weapons in online auction (Reuters)

NSA’s Hacking Group Hacked! Bunch of Private Hacking Tools Leaked Online (The Hacker News)

Cisco confirms NSA-linked zeroday targeted its firewalls for years (Ars Technica)

Juniper Acknowledges Equation Group Targeted ScreenOS

Why Should These Issues Be Considered Important?

For the affected Cisco devices (a full list is provided here), the most severe of which could allow remote code execution (where an attacker can remotely target your device and have it carry out any action of their choice). The SNMP (defined) vulnerability is the result of a buffer overflow (defined) which can be exploited by an attacker by sending specifically crafted SNMP packets (piece/unit of data being sent via electronic means e.g. within a cable or in the air e.g. WiFi) to an affected device.

Affected Fortinet devices suffer from a similar overflow within their cookie (defined) parser (a tool that analyzes data in a structured manner in order to create meaning from it). As before successful exploitation results in an attacker obtaining remote access to affected devices.

At a later date Juniper acknowledged that their products were also targeted by the group due to the information found within the files that were disclosed. They have since determined that while the code does target their ScreenOS it cannot be used for a remote attack.

How Can I Protect Myself From These Issues?
The relevant Cisco security advisories are available from the following links (further fixes are also expected):

Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance SNMP Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (patch available)

Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance CLI Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (patch available)

Cisco provides further security recommendations within their dedicated blog post of these vulnerability disclosures that is being updated as new patches are being made available.

A security advisory for the affected Fortinet devices with suggested upgrades detailed within.
As mentioned above Juniper devices are affected but are not remotely exploitable. They continuing to work on a possible means to tell if malicious code has been installed on devices created by them. More information is available within their dedicated forum post.

I hope that the above information is useful to you in defending your corporate networks against these disclosed vulnerabilities.

Thank you.