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Tuesday, 22 September 2020 14:23

US govt agencies given deadline to patch Windows Zerologon bug Featured

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US govt agencies given deadline to patch Windows Zerologon bug Pixabay

US federal agencies were given until midnight on Monday (2pm Tuesday AEDT) to patch a critical hole in Windows that has been called Zerologon and submit a report about it to the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency by midnight on Wednesday.

Those who were unable to patch their servers were asked to remove such devices from a network. The flaw is present in all supported versions of Windows.

The CISA said the vulnerability was present in Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol, a core authentication component of Active Directory.

It allows an unauthenticated attacker with network access to a domain controller to completely compromise all Active Directory identity services.

Microsoft released a patch for the flaw last Tuesday.

Tom Tervoort of the security firm Secura which found the flaw wrote: "In order to mitigate this issue, it is highly recommended to install Microsoft’s August 2020 security patches on all Active Directory domain controllers.

"Leaving a DC unpatched will allow attackers to compromise it and give themselves domain admin privileges. The only thing an attacker needs for that is the ability to set up TCP connections with a vulnerable DC; i.e. they need to have a foothold on the network, but don’t require any domain credentials."

The CISA said the nature of the flaw required emergency action. It gave the following reasons:

    • the availability of the exploit code in the wild increasing the likelihood of any unpatched domain controller being exploited;
    • the widespread presence of the affected domain controllers across the federal enterprise;
    • the high potential for a compromise of agency information systems;
    • the grave impact of a successful compromise; and
    • the continued presence of the vulnerability more than 30 days since the update was released.

Contacted for comment, former NSA hacker Jake Williams said: "There's no question that Zerologon is bad, but it's not something that should be difficult to patch. Organisations that can't figure out how to take downtime for of all things a domain controller are already in a perilous position and honestly Zerologon isn't their biggest risk."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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