First of all, before I really start, I hope that you all had a great start in 2009. Mine was actually pretty mixed. The good side was, how my year really started and what I saw when I looked out the window at January 1st (yes, I was on vacation skiing and this was how the view was almost each and every morning):
But honestly, this is not the only reason, why I wrote this post. There is another one which is much, much more serious:
Unfortunately there are still plenty of customers playing Russian Roulette with their network. This term was actually used by one of our security engineers – who was kind of upset to say the least – who had to work December 31st and January 1st because of customers still not having rolled out MS08-067 – and not just one! We ran to our limits with regards to support capacity in EMEA.
Just to remind you: This is the Out of Band security update we released back on October 23rd and which then was pretty soon attacked by Conficker.A. But it seems that a lot of customer did not care back then – they were not attacked, so why bother? In the last days of 2008 Conficker.B broke out and even though it was not spread too widely, the customers who were hit (or still are hit) are hit very, very badly. Account Lockouts all over the place, admin passwords that were grabbed (often the Domain Admins) etc – and we had some really upset engineers as they had to work instead of having off because some customers were not up to their duty (and this is what it is for me!).
And this is not the end of the story:
- For quite a while, our Anti-Malware solution was the only one, which was able to remove the thing. And without an Anti-Malware solution it is close to impossible to actually get rid of it. As always, all the information about the malware was shared amongst VIA (Virus Information Alliance) to all the partners.
- NT got infected as well and the calls came: What shall we do now? Well, there is not too much you can do. As you might know, Windows NT is out of support for a long time (since December 31st, 2004 - see our Lifecycle Page if you need more information). Isolate your Windows NT boxes (as you should have done a long time ago) and migrate away from it. I know that there are still a lot of machines with NT embedded – isolate them and work with the vendors to get to an up to date version of the OS.
Let me add a final comment: The story above is not a Microsoft-only story. The same processes and technologies around patch management have to be applied to each and every component of your environment. Back after the Blaster times, we start to tell the consumer to apply three things to their PC to protect it:
- Switch on your Firewall
- Keep your Software Updated
- Run an Anti-Malware software and keep it updated
Guess what: If you would have applied 2 and 3 to your network, you would not have been hit by this problem.