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    The worm called WannaCry (aka WannaCrypt, WannaCry0r, WanaCry, and WCry) dominated tech headlines through the weekend. According to Europol, quoted in the New York Times, WannaCry infected  200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, tied the UK health service in knots, knocked out the Spanish phone company, troubled train travelers in Germany, and took big swipes out of FedEx, Renault, a reported 29,000 Chinese institutions, and networks all over Russia—including the Russian Interior Ministry.

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    You need to get your Windows computer protected against WannaCry and its ilk. Here are detailed instructions on how to see if you need patching and, if you do, how to get patched.

    By far the easiest method is to simply run Windows Update and install all important patches. You may not be able to do that—or may not want to do that—for several important reasons:

    • You may not want all of the latest patches, whether for compatibility reasons or because you don’t trust Microsoft’s additional snooping in Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups
    • If you’re using Windows XP or Windows 8, Windows Update doesn’t work
    • If you’re running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a newer computer (Kaby Lake and Ryzen processors, as well as several others), Microsoft may have gratuitously blocked Windows Update
    • You may have problems running Windows Update for myriad reasons, and you don’t want to futz around with figuring out the reason or resetting while the threat lingers

    Your approach to checking if you need the patches, and then installing them, will vary depending on your operating system.

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    Late last night, someone claiming to represent Shadow Brokers—the people responsible for releasing stolen NSA hacking tools—posted a new message on the Steemit website. In a hard-to-fathom rant, the group makes several claims and also threatens to release even more damaging material.

    I've loosely quoted Shadow Brokers' post below, editing their statement heavily for clarity. Any translation errors are mine. Note that The Equation Group is a well-established “persistent threat” organization, widely thought to be tied to the NSA. 

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    On Patch Wednesday of this week, Microsoft said it released 14 non-security Office updates, covering such fascinating topics as improved Dutch translations in Word 2013, Danish translations in Access, and Finnish and Swedish translations in Excel. Typical first Tuesday stuff.

    Microsoft neglected to mention that it also shipped a fix for the bugs introduced by last month’s patches to Outlook 2010. Dubbed KB 4011042, the neglected fix appears to be a non-security patch that fixes bugs created by a security patch—a red flag for many advanced patchers.

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    If you have a new Surface Pro 2017 and it keeps dying unexpectedly, the best current advice is to turn it in for a replacement—while you still can. For reasons as yet unknown, and not discussed by Microsoft, newer hardware doesn’t seem to have the same problem. Or, at least, the problem isn’t as marked.

    Forums are ablaze with complaints about the new Surface Pro—the one that doesn’t have a model number but is generally known as Surface Pro 2017. Becca05 on the Microsoft Answers forum says:

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    In case you hadn’t noticed, Microsoft has had a tough time with patches this year. From a total lack of patches in February (except for a late IE patch), to yanked and reissued botched patches that followed, to a jumble of problems with Windows and Office patches—including seven admitted bugs in last month’s Office patches—Microsoft has proved itself adept at Jack-in-the-box patching. You don't have to join the legions of unpaid patch beta testers.

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    Strap on your hip waders. This particular “scare” article should have you thinking yet again about the advisability of installing Windows updates as soon as they’re available. As you’ll see, Microsoft itself has flip-flopped on the resolution and those who subscribe to Windows Update have been taken along for the ride.

    Buggy June patches to Windows, Internet Explorer and Edge left customers in the horns of a dilemma:

    • You can plug a security hole known as CVE-2017-8529, in which IE or Edge reveal the presence of a specific file on your computer when you simply surf to a compromised web site, OR
    • You can print content on web pages that are inside an HTML construct known as an iFrame, using IE 9, 10 or 11.

    Microsoft’s up against a hard bug that makes this an either-or proposition: Until Microsoft figures out how to fix both problems at the same time, either you patch the security hole, or you can print inside iFrames with IE, but not both.

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    On June 13—five and a half weeks ago—Microsoft released a series of buggy patches for Outlook. We know they’re buggy because Microsoft acknowledged seven bugs (including one primarily caused by bugs in Windows patches) in those four original June 13 security patches. As of this morning, we still don’t have fixes for those seven bugs.

    Here are the known buggy original security patches:

    • KB 3191898 – Security update for Outlook 2007, released June 13, 2017
    • KB 3203467 – Security update for Outlook 2010, released June 13
    • KB 3191938 – Security update for Outlook 2013, June 13
    • KB 3191932 – Security update for Outlook 2016, June 13

    If you have Automatic Update turned on, you were treated not only to those patches, but to all of these three later, interim fixes for the bugs in the security patches. Don't get too excited about them. In fact, they didn't fix the bugs:

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    We have no way of knowing why Microsoft released the driver updates last Friday or what they’re supposed to accomplish. What we do know is that the last set of patches came just 10 days earlier, on July 11, when Microsoft added support for the new Surface Pro Type Cover and Signature Type Cover.

    With two dozen major firmware and driver updates pushed onto the Surface Pro 4 since its release in October 2015, and a new Surface Pro 2017 currently on offer, it’s noteworthy that Microsoft is still trying to get the SP4 and SB drivers right.

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    The fourth Tuesday of the month has come and gone, and it now looks reasonably safe to patch Windows and Office. I was expecting two big releases yesterday—one to fix numerous bugs in Win10 Creators Update, version 1703; the other to plug the bugs introduced by June’s Office security patches—but neither trove appeared. Given Microsoft’s past patterns, it’s unlikely that we’ll see any more serious patches until next month’s Patch Tuesday, on Aug. 8.

    There’s also a bit of additional impetus right now. On July 17, security researcher Haifei published a proof of concept for running malware scripts directly in Office apps. I haven’t seen any exploits in the wild as yet, but it would be a good idea to install KB 3213640 (Office 2007), KB 3213624 (Office 2010), KB 3213555 (Office 2013) and/or KB 3213545 (Office 2016) in the short term. (Thx to @LeaningTowardsLinux.) Note that none of these patches, as best as I can tell, correct the Office bugs introduced in June.

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