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  • Intel says its new Spectre-busting Skylake firmware patch is ready

    Posted on February 8th, 2018 at 07:08 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Oh boy. I love the smell of fresh bricked PCs in the morning.

    Yesterday, Intel said it has released new firmware that — this time, really, for sure, honest — plugs the Meltdown/Spectre security hole. Says honcho Navin Shenoy:

    Earlier this week, we released production microcode updates for several Skylake-based platforms to our OEM customers and industry partners, and we expect to do the same for more platforms in the coming days.

    What he’s actually saying is something like, “Hey, we spent six months coming up with new firmware to fix Spectre, released it, and bricked a bunch of machines. We went back to the drawing board and, two weeks later, came up with new firmware that won’t brick your machines. Have at it.”

    According to the freshly updated Microcode Revision Guidance, Intel has released updates for Skylake U-, Y-, U23e-, H-, and S- chips.

    Shenoy goes on to say:

    Ultimately, these updates will be made available in most cases through OEM firmware updates. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for everyone to always keep their systems up-to-date. Research tells us there is frequently a substantial lag between when people receive updates and when they actually implement them. In today’s environment, that must change.

    To which I say:

    Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice… well, you know.

    Folks, you’d have to be absolutely batbox crazy to install these new BIOS/UEFI patches as they’re being rolled out. Give them time to break other peoples’ machines — or to prove their worth in open combat. I’m sure the folks who made the new firmware are quite competent and tested the living daylights out of everything. But they did that the last time, too.

    Again, I repeat, for emphasis, there is exactly NO known Meltdown or Spectre-based malware out in the wild.

  • Adobe Flash patch KB 4074595 pushed out the Windows Update chute

    Posted on February 8th, 2018 at 00:58 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Doncha just love Flash?

    A few hours ago, Microsoft pushed the first round of February 2018 patches. The KB 4074595 patch fixes two security holes in Adobe Flash Player, CVE-2018-4877 and CVE-2018-4878.

    Microsoft has a few details in Security Advisory ADV180004.

    Adobe’s Security Bulletin APSB18-03 says:

    Adobe is aware of a report that an exploit for CVE-2018-4878 exists in the wild, and is being used in limited, targeted attacks against Windows users.  These attacks leverage Office documents with embedded malicious Flash content distributed via email.

    Adobe goes on to say it’s a remote code execution hole. Critical Priority 1. Impacts 28.0.0.137 and earlier versions (February 6, 2018). New version is 28.0.0.161.

    Adobe’s version checker is here.

    Microsoft’s patches are for Windows 8.1 and Win10, all versions. All of those versions need to have Internet Explorer (and, in the case of Win10, Edge) fixed to plug the holes in the embedded versions of Flash.

    Adobe’s patches cover everything other than IE 11 and Edge. Chrome is fixed automatically, by default, when you re-start Chrome.

    Liam Tung at ZDNet reports:

    Researchers at Cisco Talos said hackers known as Group 123 were using the zero-day Flash flaw and Excel sheets to deliver the ROKRAT remote-administration tool.

    Cisco researchers found Group 123’s Excel sheets contained an ActiveX object that was a malicious Flash file that downloaded ROKRAT from a compromised web server. Notably, it was the first time this group has been seen using a zero-day exploit, suggesting the targets were carefully selected and high value.

    FireEye, which calls Group 123 TEMP.Reaper, said it had observed the group interacting with their command-and-control infrastructure from North Korean IP addresses. Most of the group’s targets were South Korean government, military and defense industry organizations, it said.

    If you haven’t yet disabled Flash, now would be a very good time to do so. Chris Hoffman at How-to-Geek has detailed instructions. If you absolutely have to have Flash, restrict it to one browser — I use Chrome to do the dirty deed — and only use it manually, under duress.

    If you can’t or won’t throttle Flash, get the update applied. Yet another Patch Wednesday.

    Thx CAR, Günter Born.