Why a Windows flaw patched nine days ago is still spooking the Internet


Enlarge / Artist’s impression of a malicious hacker coding up a BlueKeep-based exploit. (credit: Getty Images / Bill Hinton)

It has been nine days since Microsoft patched the high-severity vulnerability known as BlueKeep, and yet the dire advisories about its potential to sow worldwide disruptions keep coming.

Until recently, there was little independent corroboration that exploits could spread virally from computer to computer in a way not seen since the WannaCry and NotPetya worms shut down computers worldwide in 2017. Some researchers felt Microsoft has been unusually tight-lipped with partners about this vulnerability, possibly out of concern that any details, despite everyone’s best efforts, might hasten the spread of working exploit code.

Until recently, researchers had to take Microsoft’s word the vulnerability was severe. Then five researchers from security firm McAfee reported last Tuesday that they were able to exploit the vulnerability and gain remote code execution without any end-user interaction. The post affirmed that CVE-2019-0708, as the vulnerability is indexed, is every bit as critical as Microsoft said it was.

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