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Microsoft has issued security updates following the latest concerns about global computer virus attacks. Among the provided updates is a patch for Windows XPM.
XP was first developed in 2001, but the company stopped offering technical support for the operating system in 2014. Microsoft noted that the patch helped close a hole that could have been used to spread the virus. If accessed by hackers, the vulnerability could have caused a worldwide outbreak similar to the 2017 Wannacry worm which shut down NHS computer systems.
High risk of exploitation
Microsoft’s director for incident response Simon Pope wrote in a blog that the vulnerability was highly likely to be exploited by hackers. It only required a vulnerable machine to be connected to the internet for malicious hackers to access the bug. He added that any future malware attack from this vulnerability could result if two vulnerable computers made a connection.
Operating systems to use the patch
To prevent the risk, the patch will close loopholes in the following Microsoft operating systems:
• Windows XP
• Windows 2003
• Windows 7
• Win Server 2008
Windows XP popularity
Statistics show that at least 3.75% of all desktop machines in use operate on Windows XP, meaning that millions of machines were at risk of attack. The latest patch for the system was released just before the Wannacry outbreak. Mr Pope added that all users of the affected machines should promptly update their systems.
However, the technology company added that there was no evidence that hackers had accessed the loophole. Microsoft also assured that Windows 8 and 10 users were safe from this vulnerability.
According to Graham Cluley, who is an independent security expert, the virulent worm threat was serious seeing that Microsoft actually developed a patch for Win XP. He further added that there are many riskily connected systems and people should update quickly.