Blast from the past - Patch Tuesday updates for Windows XP

Microsoft includes Windows XP and Vista in June's Patch Tuesday updates

Microsoft took the highly unusual step Tuesday of releasing new Windows XP patches because of a "heightened risk" of nation-state activity and "attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt".

This week, Microsoft announced an urgent security patch for Windows XP and Windows Vista and urged customers running those versions of its operating system, as well as more recent versions to update their software in order to prevent cyber attacks.

In a separate blog post, Eric Doerr, general manager of the Microsoft Security Response Center, cautioned that this "should not be viewed as a departure from our standard servicing policies" and that businesses will be best-served by staying on Microsoft's roadmap with supported Windows systems.

Well this month Microsoft is once again making security patches available for these unsupported OS's because of another serious security threat from nation-state actors the company has been made aware of which impacts current and unsuppoprted versions of Windows.

At the time of the Shadow Brokers attacks, the company released some security updates which fixed most of the vulnerabilities targeted by them.

Users of Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, which are now supported by Microsoft, need not worry about the latest patch as it will be updated automatically. Older security holes had been resolved starting with Windows 7, but this still left older systems at risk. "Some of them are pretty old", he said of the dozen vulnerabilities that Microsoft patched.

The update was released as part of the company's regular Tuesday schedule. "For things like WannaCry, when the exploitation is so high and everyone and anyone is affected, Microsoft did the right thing by releasing patches for an end-of-life operating system". So, this month's updates come with extra protection for older versions of Windows.

Microsoft revealed before that these exploits only affect unsupported versions. Over 100 million people still used Windows XP as of late 2016, according to research, including millions of users in China. The patches for all Windows versions will be available via Microsoft Download Center and Windows Update. Craig Young, security researcher at infosec firm Tripwire, said: "Anyone still using Windows 2003 or XP should install these patches ASAP with the expectation that they will be actively exploited in the near term".

To give an idea of the seriousness of this month's Patch Tuesday, Microsoft has chose to include patches for a number of legacy operating systems it no longer supports. It stressed that older platforms lack the security features of their modern counterparts, even if they're kept up-to-date.

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