Windows Security Threat Elicits Critical Warning from Homeland Security

Conor Cawley

If you're a Windows user, you need to update your software as soon as possible, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently issued a warning about some serious vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity threats have become a consistent aspect of everyday life online. From massive security breaches to individual malware installations, people, businesses, and government bodies need to be vigilant online if they hope to protect the swaths of data in their control.

Unfortunately, sometimes all you can do is update your software and hope nothing nefarious has happened to your data. Because as this Microsoft Windows security threat has shown, there's only so much you can when it comes to relying on these reputable software providers.

Homeland Security Announces Windows Security Threat

According to a DHS statement released late Friday, a notable security flaw could have affected you, if your network relies on Microsoft Windows Active Directory. More specifically, an issue with the Netlogon Remote Protocol “could allow an unauthenticated attacker with network access to a domain controller to completely compromise all Active Directory identity services.”

Simply put, from the sounds of it, this vulnerability is pretty serious.

“We do not issue emergency directives unless we have carefully and collaboratively assessed it to be necessary,” read the statement from DHS. “Left unpatched, this vulnerability could allow attackers to compromise network identity services.”

Dubbed the Zerologon vulnerability, this security flaw was rated the maximum ten out of ten in terms of how dangerous it could be to your network, a rating similarly not thrown around lightly by the DHS.

The bug was discovered by Secura, a cybersecurity company, which pointed out that exploiting takes “about three minutes in practice,” which means that taking action sooner rather than later is imperative to keeping your organization safe online.

How to Fix the Windows Security Vulnerability

Fortunately, you don't need to do a lot to protect yourself from this vulnerability. Homeland Security and Microsoft have both said that simply updating the software will take care of the problem. And DHS didn't waste any time in making sure the agencies under its protection took action to fix the problem.

“We have directed agencies to implement the patch across their infrastructure by Monday, September 21, and given instructions for which of their many systems to prioritize.”

You don't need to hire a cybersecurity team, you don't need to shell out the big bucks to close the vulnerability. All you have to do is update your software. Don't overthink it.

Should You Update Your Software If You Aren't in the Government?

While the Department of Homeland Security is largely in charge of directing government agencies on these kinds of matters, they were quick to point out that this issue applies to everyone, no matter where you work.

“Though this directive applies to Executive Branch agencies, we strongly urge our partners in State and local government, the private sector, and the American public to apply this security update as soon as possible.”

Truthfully, if you want to keep yourself safe online, there are lots of ways to do it. Password managers, antivirus software, and VPNs will do the trick, given the right circumstances. But there are few easier, more comprehensive ways of staying safe online than regularly updating your software. So get on it!

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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