02.12.10

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More Victims Attest to Windows Bricking and Microsoft Halts Patches

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patch Tuesday is met with a major glitch that leaves many people without access to their computer/s and Microsoft finally acknowledges this by suspending some patches

LAST NIGHT we showed that Windows security is a lost cause. Far too many machines that run Windows are infected; in fact, almost the majority are, even though they run so-called ‘anti-viral’ software. According to this new report, Windows Trojans hit people almost literally in the pocket:

A researcher at SecureWorks has uncovered a new Trojan swiping credentials of customers of roughly 15 large and medium-sized banks in the United States.

SecureWorks has dubbed the malware the Bugat Trojan. The malware has similar functionality to other banking Trojans such as Clampi and Zeus, and was seen being distributed by a Zeus botnet.

On Tuesday came a very large number of security patches for Windows [1, 2], some of which were bricking Windows XP boxes. Awareness of he problem is now being spread as more people become vocal victims who speak out:

Tuesday’s security updates from Microsoft have crippled Windows XP PCs with the notorious Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), users have reported on the company’s support forum.

Complaints began early yesterday, and gained momentum throughout the day.

The solutions are far from simple and this is so bad that Microsoft hits the “panic!” button and halts updates:

Microsoft has removed one group of patches it released as part of this week’s Patch Tuesday — MS10-015 (KB977165) – from its Windows Update service until it can investigate reports by some users that it is causing havoc with their PCs.

To make matters worse, those who did manage to install the patches and actually reboot their machine successfully would be saddened to know that their machine is still not secure. “Another Windows security flaw is discovered,” says the headline from The Inquirer.

ANOTHER DAY, another Windows security flaw, it seems.

This time Microsoft has posted Security Advisory 977377, which reports a vulnerability in the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols.

That was fast. It’s back to the usual cycle of endless vulnerability. No wonder one in two Windows PCs is a zombie PC.

“Gates may be gone, but the walls and bars of proprietary software he helped create remain, for now. Dismantling them is up to us.”

Richard Stallman

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20 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    February 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Gravatar

    See the comments to this article:
    http://boycottnovell.com/2010/02/11/windows-xp-unbootable/

    your_friend Reply:

    These comments seek, implausibly, to shift XP bricking blame from Microsoft. How do you explain Microsoft’s halted update? Please don’t tell me that Microsoft has halted the upgrade out of an abundance of caution or that they want to redo the “patch” so it does not trigger some mysterious malware problem.

    The more straight forward scenario is usually the right one. The patch bricks XP and Microsoft knows it but had to slow down for perception management purposes.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “The patch bricks XP and Microsoft knows it but had to slow down for perception management purposes.”
    “Please don’t tell me that Microsoft has halted the upgrade out of an abundance of caution or that they want to redo the “patch” so it does not trigger some mysterious malware problem.”
    Indeed, none of these are the truth. I think the truth is that back when the patch was first pulled, MS didn’t know what was causing the problem, and MS never tested their security patches with ATAPI.SYS files that was patched by a third party (nor that they should have).

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The important thing is that people will be even MORE afraid of patching their Windows machines from now on.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    Roy seems like an “ends justify the means” kind of guy. Yuhong and myself both point out the missing references to the root of the problem being an infected driver. Roy ignores it, stating “The important thing is that people will be even MORE afraid of patching their Windows machines from now on.”

    Making sure people are afraid of Microsoft, no matter how accurate that fear is, is more important that factual reporting.

    your_friend Reply:

    Ick, what spin! On many occasions Microsoft has been convicted of breaking software for financial gain. In all cases, Microsoft blamed their victims or otherwise shifted blame from themselves. XP is an impediment to Microsoft sales of Vista and Windows 7, so it dies. How could that possibly be poor Microsoft’s fault?

    I don’t have to prove any details to prove the benefits to users of moving to free software. All of the lame excuses and finger pointing only apply to non free software. The very concept of “third party” as suspect is laughable in the free software world and free software systems do not suffer these kinds of mysterious failures. Amazingly enough, systems like Debian upgrade without a hitch and a new stable release never causes problems with older stable releases. Users rightly dread their non free software and know that it will fail them sooner or later.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yea, I read AskWoody.com, and Woody dislike automatic updating in Windows already. In fact, he has a MS-DEFCON rating for patching.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    BTW, it was an independent third-party researcher who first found this, not MS itself.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Very few patches in the core of GNU/Linux (X or Linux for example) are “critical” and remotely exploitable.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    your_friend: “I don’t have to prove any details to prove the benefits to users of moving to free software.”

    That statement is perfectly true… provided you are having a 1-on-1 argument with yourself. I stand corrected.

    your_friend Reply:

    My point was that Microsoft’s excuses for their failures are exclusive to non free software and don’t justify continued investment of time and money in non free software. The details of those excuses don’t matter because they never apply to free software.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “Very few patches in the core of GNU/Linux (X or Linux for example) are “critical” and remotely exploitable.”
    Of course not, after all, software is not directly network-facing can never be directly remotely exploitable. Now both X and Linux has parts that are network-facing, and indeed Linux’s TCP/IP stack once had a few common attacks (like nuke, land, ping of death…), but most of them was just DoS attacks, and most of them has been fixed long ago.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Many affect machines that are shared among multiple users.

  2. williami said,

    February 13, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Gravatar

    And the real kicker here is that the same SSL spoofing flaw was arleady fixed a couple of months ago by the release of OpenSSL 0.9.8l. Facepalm for Micro$oft.

    williami Reply:

    If you still don’t get the picture, maybe you should see this:

    The release date of OpenSSL 0.9.8l: 11-05-09.

    When M$ found out about the SSL issue: 02-12-10

    Do you see now? Let me spell that out for you: Micro$oft found out that issue 4 MONTHS after OpenSSL 0.9.8l was released, which fixed the very same flaw. Seriously, Micro$oft deserves a facepalm.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft also knew about the Internet Explorer flaw which China exploited rather massively. Microsoft sat on in for almost half a year without bothering to do anything.

    your_friend Reply:

    Their excuse, ultimately, is that they don’t have the manpower to fix everything, but this is a flaw in their business model. Free software does not operate under the same constraints.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    In Free software, upgrades are typically free/gratis, so it’s easier to manage patches of the new version/s while migrating all users to the latest version/s. Take WordPress for example.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Though sometimes there is significant codebase changes that require a old version to be maintained. Take the recently discontinued Apache 1.3 for example.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Upgrades are free.

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