Microsoft warns of new Windows attacks

Exploits aimed at PCs that haven't been patched with October's emergency fix

Security researchers at Microsoft Tuesday warned of a significant climb in exploits of a Windows bug it patched with an emergency fix last month, confirming earlier reports by Symantec.

Microsoft again urged users to apply the MS08-067 patch if they have not already done so.

The new attacks, which Microsoft's Malware Protection Center said began over the weekend but spiked in the past two days, use the same worm Symantec first spotted last Friday.

Dubbed "Conficker.a" by Microsoft and "Downadup" by Symantec, the worm exploits the vulnerability in the Windows Server service, used by all versions of the operating system to connect to file and print servers on a network. Microsoft patched the bug in an out-of-cycle update five weeks ago after it discovered a small number of infected PCs, most of them in Southeast Asia.

According to Ziv Mador, a researcher with the Malware Protection Center, the new wave of attacks has spread in corporations and hit "several hundred" home users. Most of the infection reports have come from US users, said Mador in a post to the center's blog, but his team has received calls from users in several other countries too. The worm avoids infecting Ukrainian computers, Mador said, which may indicate the malware was written by a Ukrainian; hackers often purposefully skip systems in the country where they live, hoping that will postpone or eliminate any reaction by local authorities.

"It is also interesting to note that the worm patches the vulnerable API in memory so the machine will not be vulnerable anymore," said Mador. "It is not that the malware authors care so much about the computer as they want to make sure that other malware will not take it over too."

The worm also resets the machine's system restore point, said Microsoft in its technical write-up, which may make it difficult or impossible to "roll back" Windows to a pre-infection state.

PCs that have been patched with the MS08-067 fix are protected, Mador stressed.

Last week, Symantec bumped up its ThreatCon security alert status from "1" to "2" in response to attacks it had tracked hitting its customers and honeypots. Others security vendors, however, disputed the uptick.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags microsoft patches

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?