Back to qualys.com
42 posts

The Sky Is Falling! Responding Rationally to Headline Vulnerabilities

It’s happening more and more.

Gill Langston, a Qualys Director of Product Management, speaks at RSA Conference 2018

High profile vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre are disclosed, and become headline-grabbing news not just in the technology press, but on general news outlets worldwide.

Even if the vulnerabilities aren’t associated with an attack, the news reports rattle C-level executives, who ask the security team for a plan to address the by now notorious bug, and pronto.

Often, a counter-productive disruption of the normal vulnerability and patch management operations ensues, as those involved scramble to draft a response against the clock in a panic atmosphere, punctuated by confusion and finger-pointing.

“Should I just immediately be jumping and reacting? Should I start deploying patches, and then go from there? I’m going to argue that that’s not always the case,” Gill Langston, a Product Management Director at Qualys, said Wednesday during a presentation at RSA Conference 2018.

Continue reading …

April Patch Tuesday – 63 Microsoft vulnerabilities, 19 for Adobe

Today’s Patch Tuesday is smaller than last month, but there are more critical updates this time. Out of the 63 vulnerabilities covered by the Microsoft patches, 22 of them are critical. Adobe has released 6 bulletins covering 19 vulnerabilities. According to Microsoft and Adobe, there are no active attacks against these vulnerabilities.

The majority of the Microsoft critical vulnerabilities are in browsers and browser-related technologies. It is recommended that these be prioritized for workstation-type devices. Any system that accesses the Internet via a browser should be patched.

Continue reading …

Microsoft Misfires with Meltdown Patch, while WannaCry Pops Up at Boeing

In our weekly roundup of InfoSec happenings, we start, as has often been the case this year, with concerning Meltdown / Spectre news — this time involving Microsoft — and also touch on a password hack at Under Armour, a WannaCry infection at Boeing, and a severe Drupal vulnerability.

Microsoft patches its Meltdown patch, then patches it again

In an instance of the cure possibly being worse than the disease, a Microsoft patch for Meltdown released in January created a gaping security hole in certain systems in which it was installed.

It took Microsoft two tries to fix the issue, which affects Windows 7 (x64) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64) systems. The company thought it had solved the vulnerability (CVE-2018-1038) with a scheduled patch last Tuesday, but then had to rush out an emergency fix two days later.

Security researcher Ulf Frisk, who discovered the vulnerability, called it “way worse” than Meltdown because it “allowed any process to read the complete memory contents at gigabytes per second” and made it possible to write to arbitrary memory as well.

“No fancy exploits were needed. Windows 7 already did the hard work of mapping in the required memory into every running process,” Frisk wrote. “Exploitation was just a matter of read and write to already mapped in-process virtual memory. No fancy APIs or syscalls required — just standard read and write.”

Continue reading …

March Patch Tuesday – 75 Microsoft vulnerabilities, 7 for Adobe

Today’s Patch Tuesday covers a lot of vulnerabilities, but in terms of critical updates, it is still light. Out of the 75 vulnerabilities covered, only 15 are marked as critical. Adobe has released patches as well, covering 7 vulnerabilities.

All of the critical vulnerabilities from Microsoft are in browsers and browser-related technologies. It is recommended that these be prioritized for workstation-type devices. Any system that accesses the Internet via a browser should be patched.

Continue reading …

GDPR: The Stakes Are High and Time Is of the Essence

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect in under three months, the countdown clock is fast approaching zero for organizations worldwide that handle personal data of EU residents.

GDPR is a very broad and wide-ranging regulation that requires organizations to obtain a lot of legal advice, and to implement business controls. Although these controls exceed the scope of information security, IT security and compliance are a significant subset of the regulation.

A special challenge for InfoSec teams is GDPR’s lack of details about specific security measures and requirements for protecting EU residents’ data.

“The GDPR regulation is extremely vague and doesn’t give any detailed prescriptive requirements of what the expectations are for data protection, but they’re very far-reaching,” Tim White, a Qualys Product Management Director, said during a recent webcast.

GDPR puts a heavier burden of accountability on organizations, forcing them, among other things, to accommodate significant new rights for individuals. For example, EU residents can request that organizations delete, disclose, correct and transfer their personal information.

To comply with these GDPR “subject access requests,” organizations must know what data they have, where it’s stored, with whom they’re sharing it, how they’re protecting it, and what they’re using it for.

Unfortunately, many organizations are far from ready to comply with GDPR.

Continue reading …

Recline on the Qualys Couch: Examining Patching Behavior

In a perfect world, organizations would patch vulnerabilities immediately after they’re disclosed, preemptively blocking exploits and dodging most cyber attacks.

Of course, reality is far from that hypothetically ideal state. Organizations often leave critical vulnerabilities unpatched for months, even years. Hackers routinely feast on all that low-hanging fruit to hijack systems, steal data, deface websites and disrupt operations.

We all know it’s impossible to patch every single vulnerability. Thousands are disclosed every year, and patching systems can be complicated, time-consuming and inconvenient. But InfoSec teams agree that fixing the most dangerous bugs on a timely basis is not only doable but also necessary.

The problem is that prioritizing remediation and pinpointing those critical vulnerabilities is difficult when — as is often the case — organizations lack continuous and automated vulnerability management, asset inventorying and threat analysis.

Unsurprisingly, recent Qualys data on patching behavior shows that remediation activity is directly related to the level of risk attached to specific vulnerabilities. And in some cases, specifically when it comes to the realm of IoT devices, patching is always slow, and often non-existent.

Continue reading …

February Patch Tuesday – 55 Microsoft vulnerabilities patched, 45 for Adobe

For this month’s Patch Tuesday, Microsoft has released patches covering 55 vulnerabilities, with 15 ranked as critical. This includes out-of-band Office patches from mid-January as well as patches for Adobe Flash that were released last week.

From this list, there are patches for a vulnerability (CVE-2018-0825) that impacts StructuredQuery in Windows servers and workstations. Exploitation of this vulnerability would be through a malicious file and would lead to remote code execution. This patch should be at the top of the priority list, aside from the Adobe Flash patches mentioned below.

Continue reading …

Securing IT Assets By Prioritizing Protection And Remediation

As hackers get faster at weaponizing exploits for disclosed bugs, InfoSec teams need — more than ever — automated, continuous and precise IT asset inventorying, vulnerability management, threat prioritization and patch deployment.

Critical vulnerabilities that linger unpatched for weeks or months offer hackers easy opportunities to breach systems. These bugs open the door for bad guys to steal confidential data, hijack PCs, commit financial fraud and create mayhem.

The WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected 300,000-plus systems and disrupted critical operations globally in mid-May 2017, highlighted the importance of timely vulnerability remediation.

Continue reading …

Continuous Security and Compliance Monitoring for Global IT Assets

In today’s information security world, all assets everywhere must be detected, visible, protected and compliant — all the time. It’s no longer enough to rely on “point in time” security and compliance assessments, such as scheduled weekly or monthly scans on handpicked critical servers.

“You must transition to continuous security and compliance monitoring of all of your global IT assets,” Chris Carlson, a Vice President of Product Management at Qualys, said during a recent webcast.

The reasons for this shift are many and varied, and include these three key ones:

Continue reading …

Meltdown/Spectre: Intel Nixes Patches, Tech CEOs Questioned on Information Blackout

IT departments and tech vendors continued grappling with Spectre and Meltdown this week, as Intel pulled its glitchy patches and the U.S. Congress questioned the vulnerability disclosures’ timing and scope.

Spectre and Meltdown aren’t typical vulnerabilities for a number of reasons, and as a result, they’ve proven problematic to deal with. Intel, whose products are the most impacted, has had a particularly rocky time crafting its firmware updates for mitigating the bugs.

Continue reading …