Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Micropatch is Available for WSUS Spoofing Local Privilege Escalation Vulnerability (CVE-2020-1013)


by Mitja Kolsek, the 0patch Team

Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 users without Extended Security Updates have just received a micropatch for CVE-2020-1013, a WSUS spoofing local privilege escalation vulnerability.

This vulnerability was patched by Microsoft with September 2020 Updates, but POC became available in October when original researchers from GoSecure published it.Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 users without Extended Security Updates remained vulnerable so we decided to create a micropatch for them.
This turned out to be harder than we had expected - not because it was hard to write a micropatch but because it was difficult to reproduce the issue on these platforms (the original POC was written for Windows 10). We had to dive deep into communication between Windows Update client and WSUS and its specifics for Windows 7, all the while multitasking on several other vulns, and finally ended up with a working POC - quickly followed by a micropatch.
Note that while Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 machines without Extended Security Updates obviously don't receive operating system updates anymore, it makes sense to keep them connected to WSUS in order to receive updates for various installed Microsoft products.

The vulnerability lies in Windows Update client's willingness to honor the proxy set by a low-privileged user, while also trusting certificates from such user's certificate store. This means that even if the update client was configured to contact WSUS via HTTPS, a local attacker could redirect its communication through their own proxy using a self-signed certificate. Meta data provided to the update client would then be trusted, and long story short, attacker's file would be stored to a chosen location on the computer, where it would later be executed with high privileges. 
Microsoft's patch prevents Update Client from honoring user-defined proxy, and also provides a way to re-enable this feature via registry.
Our micropatch also prevents Update Client from honoring user-defined proxy in logically identical way to Microsoft's, while admins can re-enable the feature by simply disabling the micropatch.
A video of the micropatch in action:

We'd like to thank  Maxime Nadeau of GoSecure for sharing their analysis and POC, which allowed us to create this micropatch for Windows users without official security updates. We also encourage security researchers to privately share their analyses with us for micropatching.

This micropatch is immediately available to all 0patch users with a PRO license, and is targeted at Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 users without Extended Security Updates. To obtain the micropatch and have it applied on your computer(s) along with other micropatches included with a PRO license, create an account in 0patch Central, install 0patch Agent and register it to your account. Note that no computer restart is needed for installing the agent or applying/un-applying any 0patch micropatch. 

And don't forget, if your organization has Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 machines with Extended Security Updates and wouldn't mind saving lots of money on less expensive security patches in 2021 that don't even need your machines to be restarted, proceed to our New Year's Resolution.

To learn more about 0patch, please visit our Help Center

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

2021 New Year's Resolution: "We Will Spend Less Time and Money on Security Patches"


It's been over a year since we had announced our "security adoption" of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 after they would reach end of support in January 2020. Starting with February 2020, the first Patch Tuesday without free security updates, we began actively collecting details on high-risk vulnerabilities affecting these Windows versions and issuing micropatches for them.

Until now, we've issued micropatches for 24 such vulnerabilities in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, including some 0days (i.e., vulnerabilities for which there was no official patch from Microsoft yet, such as this one) and our most popular server micropatch for the Zerologon vulnerability. Additional micropatches will surely be issued by the end of our first 12 months of keeping Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 secure.

Many organizations that kept Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 in their networks after January 2020 have purchased Extended Security Updates ("ESU"), which Microsoft pledged to provide for three additional years - with their price doubling in the second year, and again in the third year. For Windows 7, ESU was priced somewhere between $25 and $50 per computer for the first year, and for Server 2008 R2 at about 75% of the on-premises license cost for the first year (ouch!).

With 0patch PRO license costing about $26 (€22.95+tax) per computer per year, ESU may have seemed the better option on Windows 7 computers for organizations that wrestled a good deal from Microsoft - after all, they would get to continue doing what they did before, updating these computers every Patch Tuesday and remaining compliant while avoiding a Windows upgrade.

On servers, where 0patch PRO license costs exactly the same as on workstations, the price list was decidedly in favor of 0patch, but it's understandable that everyone is extra careful about servers and what they install on them. Consequently, many prospects we talked to ended up "going with ESU for now and keeping our eyes on 0patch until the renewal is up in 2021."

Meanwhile, Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are hardly going extinct. According to NetMarketShare, 24% of web traffic originating from Windows computers still comes from Windows 7 machines (33% a year ago). And both the workstation and the server are an integral part of many an expensive and/or ubiquitous medical, financial and manufacturing device - which will do their jobs quite well for years to come if only they can be kept secure.

Save Time and Money on Patches in 2021


Any organization still using Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 and wishing to keep them secured is welcome to try out 0patch and see how easy, painless and inexpensive security micropatching is for fixing the vulnerabilities that really matter.

Save time with 0patch by:

  • not keeping users idle while updates are installed or uninstalled
    (micropatches get applied in-memory while users are working),
  • not rebooting all computers at least once every month
    (micropatches don't even require a restart of patched processes, much less entire computers),
  • not worrying about what the huge monthly update will break
    (micropatches change just a couple of instructions, reducing the risk of breakage to absolute minimum),
  • closing attackers' window of opportunity quickly, even automatically
    (due to low risk of breakage, micropatches can be applied instantly - but don't worry, you can also un-apply them just as instantly if you think they're causing problems).

Save money with 0patch by:

  • mainly, by simply paying much less for 0patch than for alternative sources of security patches for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2
    (remember, 0patch PRO costs €22.95+tax per computer per year, both for workstations and servers),
  • getting Enterprise features for free by ordering before January 14, 2021
    (Enterprise features like central management, groups, group-based patching policies etc. are a free add-on to 0patch PRO in the first 12 months of our "security adoption" period).


Finally, if your organization happens to still be using Office 2010 and is reluctant to replace it once it stops receiving official security updates, we have more good news: Office 2010 security micropatches are included in 0patch PRO.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: We don't have Extended Security Updates. If we start using 0patch on our Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 computers now, will we receive all micropatches that have been issued since these systems went out of support?

A: Absolutely, 0patch PRO licenses gives you access to all patches we've issued so far and all patches we'll issue during the subscription term. Just make sure to have these computers updated with January 2020 rollup updates (the last free updates).

Q: We've purchased Extended Security Updates for 2020 but are now considering switching to 0patch. Can we keep the installed ESU updates on our computers and take it from there?

A: Yes. You should apply all ESU updates you will receive until the end of your ESU subscription, as our micropatches will be ported to the exact executable versions on so-updated machines.

Q: We'd like to try out 0patch before making a decision. How do we do that?

A: Create an account in 0patch Central and let us know at which email address you used so we can upgrade your account to Enterprise and issue you a couple of trial licenses to work with.

Q: Where can we learn more about your security micropatches for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2?

A: Our Help Center articles provide a lot of additional information, but you can also send an email to with any questions that remained unanswered.

Stay safe!