MICROSOFT HAS TAKEN THE UNUSUAL STEP of releasing a critical security patch for Windows XP, warning that another WannaCry-style attack could be on the horizon.
Last month, Microsoft was forced to patch Windows XP to help prevent the spread of WannaCry ransomware, which hit an estimated 300,000 PCs worldwide and struck NHS hospitals across the UK. Following the release, reports claimed that Microsoft had been sitting on the patch since February.
In a bid to prevent a similar scenario, Microsoft on Tuesday issued emergency updates for legacy versions of Windows dating back to XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Embedded and Windows 7 Embedded.
The firm said in a blog post that Tuesday's updates include fixes for three other exploits that, like Eternalblue used by WannaCry, were released by the Shadow Brokers hacking group.
"In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber attacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organisations," said Adrienne Hall, general manager of crisis management at Microsoft.
"To address this risk, today we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service. These security updates are being made available to all customers, including those using older versions of Windows."
Microsoft had previously said that it wouldn't issue out-of-support patches for the three exploits, codenamed EsteemAudit, ExplodingCan, and EnglishmanDentist, which exploit flaws in the Windows remote desktop protocol, IIS 6.0 and Microsoft Exchange servers.
In the post, Microsoft clarified this doesn't mean a return to full support for Windows XP, which ended in 2014.
The firm clarifies this was an exception based on new intelligence and "should not be viewed as a departure from our standard servicing policies."
The out-of-support updates come included in Microsoft's June Patch Tuesday release, which addressed a whopping 94 vulnerabilities. This includes fixes for 27 remote code execution (RCE) exploits that could allow an attacker to take control of a machine. µ
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