September 25, 2023

So far as we will inform, there are a whopping 2874 items on this month’s Patch Tuesday replace checklist from Microsoft, primarily based on the CSV obtain we simply grabbed from Redmond’s Security Update Guide internet web page.

(The web site itself says 2283, however the CSV export contained 2875 traces, the place the primary line isn’t really an information file however a listing of the assorted area names for the remainder of the traces within the file.)

Obviously apparent on the very prime of the checklist are the names within the Product column of the primary 9 entries, coping with an elevation-of-privilege (EoP) patch denoted CVE-2013-21773 for Home windows 7, Home windows 8.1, and Home windows RT 8.1.

Home windows 7, as many individuals will bear in mind, was extraordinarily standard in its day (certainly, some nonetheless think about it one of the best Home windows ever), lastly luring even die-hard followers throughout from Home windows XP when XP assist ended.

Home windows 8.1, which is remembered extra as a sort-of “bug-fix” launch for the unlamented and long-dropped Home windows 8 than as an actual Home windows model in its personal proper, by no means actually caught on.

And Home windows RT 8.1 was the whole lot individuals didn’t like within the common model of Home windows 8.1, however operating on proprietary ARM-based {hardware} that was locked down strictly, like an iPhone or an iPad – not one thing that Home windows customers had been used to, nor, to guage by the market response, one thing that many individuals had been keen to simply accept.

Certainly, you’ll generally read that the comparative unpopularity of Home windows 8 is why the subsequent main launch after 8.1 was numbered Home windows 10, thus intentionally creating a way of separation between the previous model and the brand new one.

Different explanations embody that Home windows 10 was alleged to be the total title of the product, in order that the 10 fashioned a part of the model new product title, moderately than being only a quantity added to the title to indicate a model. The following look of Home windows 11 put one thing of a dent in that principle – however there by no means was a Home windows 9.

The top of two eras

Shed your tears now, as a result of this month sees the final safety updates for the old-school Home windows 7 and Home windows 8.1 variations.

Home windows 7 has now reached the top of its three-year pay-extra-to-get-ESU interval (ESU is brief for prolonged safety updates), and Home windows 8.1 merely isn’t getting extended updates, apparently regardless of how a lot you’re keen to pay:

As a reminder, Home windows 8.1 will attain finish of assist on January 10, 2023 [2023-01-10], at which level technical help and software program updates will not be supplied. […]

Microsoft is not going to offer an Prolonged Safety Replace (ESU) program for Home windows 8.1. Persevering with to make use of Home windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 could enhance a company’s publicity to safety dangers or impression its skill to fulfill compliance obligations.

So, it truly is the top of the Home windows 7 and Home windows 8.1 eras, and any working system bugs left on any computer systems nonetheless operating these variations might be there endlessly.

Keep in mind, after all, that regardless of their ages, each these platforms have this very month acquired patches for dozens of various CVE-numbered vulnerabilities: 42 CVEs within the case of Home windows 7, and 48 CVEs within the case of Home windows 8.1.

Even when up to date menace researchers and cybercriminals aren’t explicitly on the lookout for bugs in previous Home windows builds, flaws which might be first discovered by attackers digging into the very newest construct of Home windows 11 would possibly end up to have been inherited from legacy code.

The truth is, the CVE counts of 42 and 48 above evaluate with a complete of 90 totally different CVEs listed on Microsoft’s official January 2023 Release Notes web page, loosely suggesting that about half of right this moment’s bugs (on this month’s checklist, all 90 have CVE-2023-XXXX date designators) have been ready round to be present in Home windows for a minimum of a decade.

In different phrases, in the identical method that bugs uncovered in previous variations could end up nonetheless to have an effect on the most recent and biggest releases, additionally, you will usually discover that “new” bugs go method again, and could be retrofitted into exploits that work on previous Home windows variations, too.

Mockingly, “new” bugs could in the end be simpler to take advantage of on older variations, as a result of much less restrictive software program construct settings and extra liberal run-time configurations that had been thought of acceptable again then.

Older laptops with much less reminiscence than right this moment had been usually arrange with 32-bit variations of Home windows, even when that they had 64-bit processors. Some menace mitigation strategies, notably people who contain randomising the areas the place packages find yourself in reminiscence with a purpose to to cut back predictability and make exploits tougher to drag off reliably, are usually much less efficient on 32-bit Home windows, just because there are fewer reminiscence addresses to select from. Like hide-and-seek, the extra doable locations there are to cover, the longer it typically takes to search out you.

“Exploitation detected”

In response to Bleeping Pc, solely two of the vulnerabilities disclosed this month are listed as being in-the-wild, in different phrases known outside Microsoft and the instant analysis group:

  • CVE-2023-21674: Windows Advanced Local Procedure Call (ALPC) Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability. Confusingly, this one is listed as Publicly disclosed: no, however Exploitation Detected. From this, we assume that cybercriminals already know the way to abuse this bug, however they’re fastidiously retaining the main points of the exploit to themselves, presumably to make it tougher for menace responders to know what to search for on methods that haven’t been patched but.
  • CVE-2023-21549: Windows SMB Witness Service Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability. This one is denoted Publicly disclosed, however however written up as Exploitation Much less Probably. From this, we infer that even when somebody tells you the place the bug is positioned and the way you would possibly set off it, determining the way to exploit the bug efficiently and really reaching an elevation of privilege goes to be tough.

Intriguingly, the CVE-2023-21674 bug, which is actively in use by attackers, isn’t on the Home windows 7 patch checklist, however it does apply to Home windows 8.1.

The second bug, CVE-2023-21549, described as publicly recognized, applies to each Home windows 7 and Home windows 8.1.

As we mentioned above, newly found flaws usually go a good distance.

CVE-2023-21674 applies all the best way from Home windows 8.1 to the very newest builds of Home windows 11 2022H2 (H2, in case you had been questioning, means “the discharge issued within the second half of the yr”).

Much more dramatically, CVE-2023-21549 applies proper from Home windows 7 to Home windows 11 2022H2.

What to do with these previous computer systems?

In the event you’ve received Home windows 7 or Home windows 8.1 computer systems that you just nonetheless think about usable and helpful, think about switching to an open supply working system, similar to a Linux distro, that’s nonetheless getting each assist and updates.

Some group Linux builds concentrate on retaining their distros small and easy

Though they might not have the most recent and biggest assortment of photograph filters, video modifying instruments, chess engines and high-resolution wallpapers, minimalist distros are nonetheless appropriate for looking and electronic mail, even on previous, 32-bit {hardware} with small onerous disks and low reminiscence.