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Serious vulnerability sparks global virus fear

Cyber Education

In May of this year (2019), the BBC posted a story entitled ‘Global virus fear prompts update for old Windows’: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48295227

The story opens with: ‘Fears of a massive global computer virus outbreak have prompted Microsoft to issue security updates for very old versions of its Windows software.’

A weakness named BlueKeep has been found in some older versions of their operating systems, namely:

The weakness could be exploited (operated and used remotely, if you like) simply by connecting to the vulnerable computer remotely, even from across the internet. The exploit is not itself a virus as the title of this post might suggest, but could and almost certainly will be used. 

Protecting against the weakness should be taken very seriously. The global spread of the  malware, WannyCry, WannaCrypt or WannaCryptor that crippled the UK’s NHS and many other organisations across the globe in 2017 caused widespread destruction of computer data and chaos in the real world. In the case of the NHS, hundreds of operations were cancelled due to patients’ records being irretrievably encrypted and locked as a result of the malware.

The fact that Microsoft released an update for Microsoft Windows XP, an operating system they stopped supporting in 2014, shows the seriousness of the exploit.

Ensuring your computers are not vulnerable is simple enough: just ensure your operating system has all of the updates released by Microsoft. And make sure your anti virus software is fully updated as well.

I’ll add a plea to this article: If you are using Windows XP, Windows Vista or any version of Windows older than XP, please stop doing so straight away.  

I would urge you to upgrade your computer to a supported operating system. In the case of Windows, that is Windows 10 – and ensure it is the latest version.

If you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8, bear in mind, mainstream support has ended. For Windows 7, this was in 2015 and for Windows 8.1, this was in 2018. Microsoft do still support them through their extend support programme, but that ends in January of 2020 for WIndows 7 and 2023 for Windows 8.

I do not see the need to upgrade as a choice, but as a requirement. It is in your interests to protect your business and part of that is ensuring your computer systems are as up to date as possible. This isn’t a one-off case. It is a constant and essential process.