For IT and Cybersecurity practitioners, the second Tuesday of the month sets the tone for the upcoming week (or weeks). “Patch Tuesday” is the day when Microsoft announces and releases all of the security updates for their software products.

While every Patch Tuesday can be impactful from a workload standpoint, some announcements from Microsoft carry more weight than others. Last Tuesday we saw another example of that.

Patch Tuesday: January 14, 2020

Microsoft announced updates that address vulnerabilities with core cryptographic functions within the Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 operating systems. The services associated with this vulnerability are responsible for validating certain functions – essentially determining that something is legitimate – that happen within the operating system. This vulnerability is significant because it creates a version of “trust” – for lack of a better term – within the system. And if a malicious program can get around that trust, then it can potentially lead to harmful actions.

What made this story even more interesting is the background of how Microsoft found out about the vulnerability. Researchers at the National Security Agency (NSA) discovered the issue. They quickly made Microsoft aware of it so steps could be taken to secure it. This represents a departure from past practices by the NSA where they would not disclose these vulnerabilities. They could then use them for intelligence gathering purposes. They viewed this vulnerability as severe enough that they seemed to have a change of heart.

Recommendations:

Now that updates are out and have been tested (as ADNET does with updates on a regular basis), we recommend that these updates be rolled out to your environments in the near term. While there are no active exploits taking advantage of this specific vulnerability, it is only a matter of time.

As I have preached, one of the simplest ways to reduce your cybersecurity exposure is to keep your systems updated. Automated, monitored systems for deploying these updates on a regular basis can be your best friend in staying on top of this important process.

If you have questions on how you can make sure your updates are managed and your systems are regularly patched, please reach out to us. ADNET’s Foundations Desktop and Foundations Server managed services both offer patch management options.

Happy patching!