Microsoft releases security patches for older versions of Windows to block ‘potential attacks’

Microsoft has released security patches for as many as 16 vulnerabilities that exist in older versions of Windows, citing potential attacks similar to WannaCry.

Microsoft's new security patches will fix vulnerabilities in all versions of the Windows operating system that are older than Windows 8.

The software giant has asked users of such versions to install the security patches at the earliest to guard against 'potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt.'

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“Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber-attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt,” said Adrienne Hall, the head of Microsoft’s Cyber Defense Operations Center.

Last week, security research firm Secarma warned that Shadow Brokers, the hackers behind WannaCry ransomware attacks, could use a malware named 'ExplodingCan' to infect as many as 375,000 computers around the world. The codes for 'ExplodingCan' malware were stolen from the NSA by Shadow Brokers and can be used to exploit a critical flaw in the Internet Information Services version 6.0 (IIS 6.0) web server which is present in Microsoft Windows 2003 systems.

'ExplodingCan' malware may affect 375,000 computers running Microsoft Windows 2003

By exploiting the said flaw, hackers behind 'ExplodingCan' will not only be able to gain remote access to computers but will also be able to download other malware like WannaCry which will then be used to extort money from users.

The fact that Microsoft has finally released security patches for older versions of Windows means that the company is serious about potential cyber-attacks that may be as much or more harmful compared to WannaCry ransomware attacks.

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For those using older versions of Windows and having no access to regular security patches, Microsoft offers a custom support programme which, in some cases, costs up to $1,000 a year. The latest patches offered by the company are available for free and are not part of any custom support programme.

"We take every single cyber-attack on a Windows system seriously, and we’ve been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident. This included a decision to take additional steps to assist users with older systems that are no longer supported. Clearly, responding to this attack and helping those affected needs to be our most immediate priority," said Microsoft after the WannaCry ransomware attack took place.