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Google has disclosed a zero-day vulnerability in Windows which is currently unpatched and being actively exploited in the wild. It’s far to say Microsoft is none too happy with this situation, claiming Google’s actions “puts customers at potential risk”.
Sometime in early October, Google discovered serious vulnerabilities in both Windows and Flash. On October 21st, Google informed Microsoft and Adobe of the critical security issues in both products. On October 26th, Adobe updated Flash to fix the issue. But Microsoft still hasn’t fixed the issue lurking in the Windows kernel.
Despite this, Google disclosed details of the vulnerabilities in a post published on the Google Security Blog on October 31st. This adheres to the company’s policy of publicly revealing such issues exist seven days after informing the vendor of the affected product(s).
Microsoft Gets Upset With Google
Google describes the Windows vulnerability as follows:
“The Windows vulnerability is a local privilege escalation in the Windows kernel that can be used as a security sandbox escape. It can be triggered via the win32k.sys system call NtSetWindowLongPtr() for the index GWLP_ID on a window handle with GWL_STYLE set to WS_CHILD. Chrome’s sandbox blocks win32k.sys system calls using the Win32k lockdown mitigation on Windows 10, which prevents exploitation of this sandbox escape vulnerability.”
Which likely offers enough information for hackers to figure out how to use the vulnerability to their advantage. This has obviously upset Microsoft, which told VentureBeat:
“We believe in coordinated vulnerability disclosure, and today’s disclosure by Google puts customers at potential risk. Windows is the only platform with a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and proactively update impacted devices as soon as possible. We recommend customers use Windows 10 and the Microsoft Edge browser for the best protection.”
This Is Bad For Everyone Involved
Adobe was able to patch the vulnerability quickly, but then it’s a lot easier to patch Flash than it is to patch Windows. So Microsoft may have a valid argument that such a speedy public disclosure is bad for everyone involved. That is apart from criminals trying to exploit the security holes.
It should be noted that the Flash vulnerability is required to take advantage of the Windows vulnerability. At least in its current form. So, as long as you make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Flash, you should be safe from harm for the time being. However, Microsoft still needs to patch the Windows vulnerability sooner rather than later.
Did Google do the right thing disclosing this vulnerability so quickly? Does Microsoft have a valid argument that seven days isn’t long enough to patch such problems? Have you checked to make sure Adobe Flash is up to date? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Pirátská Strana via Flickr