Microsoft fixes FREAK vulnerability in Patch Tuesday update

Microsoft has issued critical patches for Windows, Internet Explorer and Office

With the latest Patch Tuesday release, Microsoft is fixing the FREAK vulnerability that could help attackers intercept secured network communications.

The security bulletin is one of 14 that Microsoft issued Tuesday, five of which are marked critical, meaning administrators should apply them as quickly as possible.

The bulletins address vulnerabilities residing in both the consumer and server editions of Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, SharePoint Server and Exchange Server.

Discovered earlier this month, FREAK (Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys) provides a way for an attacker to intercept SSL-encrypted traffic encrypted by SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) as it moves between clients and servers.

An attacker could use the flaw to secretly access and even alter communications between two parties, said Amol Sarwate, director of engineering at security firm Qualys.

While the FREAK flaw itself resides in SSL, Microsoft has fixed the SSL implementations in its own software through MS15-031.

The critical bulletins for both Explorer (MS15-018) and Office (MS15-022) address flaws that would let an attacker take remote control of a machine, Sarwate said.

An attacker could use the vulnerabilities, for instance, to plant a malicious program onto a machine, by tricking a user into opening either an infected Web page in the case of Explorer, or an infected document in Office. "It basically turns the user's machine into the attacker's machine," Sarwate said.

Although not ranked as critical, MS15-026 should be examined by administrators who oversee Exchange servers, Sarwate said. The vulnerabilities affect Exchange's Outlook Web Access (OWA), which provides a way for users to check email with a browser. A user could be fooled into clicking on a maliciously crafted e-mail link that directs them to the OWA site, and then extends the user's access privileges on that machine to the attacker.

Another bulletin, MS15-030, highlights the importance of properly securing remote access connections to a server. The vulnerability resides in Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which could be used to cripple a server with a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Administrators like using RDP because it provides an easy way to log into a remote machine, but if they are doing this they should employ additional security measures, such as using a virtual private network connection, said Wolfgang Kandek, Qualys chief technology officer. Keeping a port open for RDP traffic coming directly in from the Internet provides another attack surface. At the minimum, RDP users should apply this patch.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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 Microsoftpatch management

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

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?