Network Security, Vulnerability Management

Microsoft releases Patch Tuesday fixes, including WannaCry defense

Defenses to thwart the WannaCry malware have been embedded into the latest Patch Tuesday release from Microsoft.

A patch specifically addressing the ransomware, also known as WannaCrypt and WanaCrypt0r 2.0, was issued last month as the scourge spread, eventually affecting as many as 75,000 computers in nearly 100 countries, locking up computers and demanding a ransom payment of $300 to decrypt it.

"Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber attacks at this time," Microsoft is including Windows XP – which it ceased supporting in April 2014 – as part of its latest round of security updates.

“In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyberattacks by government organizations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors, or other copycat organizations,” Adrienne Hall, general manager for the Cyber Defense Operations Center at Microsoft, said in a blog post. “To address this risk, today we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service."

The updates are being provided on Microsoft's Download Center or Windows Update to all customers, including those running Windows XP, Windows Vista and each of the more recently unsupported and supported versions of Windows.

The deviation from its standard procedure is "based on an assessment of the current threat landscape by our security engineers," Microsoft stated, adding, "we made the decision to make updates available more broadly."

The patches should be applied as soon as possible, the company advised. Those customers running supported platforms with automatic updates enabled, like Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, do not need to take any action.

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