In the wake of the recent WannaCry ransomware saga, Software giant Microsoft has released new security updates for older versions of Windows so as to protect all its Windows customers from any such potential cyber-attacks. The move has come as a surprise to many as the giant typically issues updates only for the operating systems that it is still supporting.

The security updates by Microsoft also includes updates to Windows XP, the OS that was recently targeted by the WannaCry ransomware attack.

For the uninitiated, Ransomware is a malware that blocks access to a computer or its data and demands money to release it. The infamous malware had attacked parts of Britain’s National Health Service and other companies worldwide in May this year.

While Microsoft normally releases updates only for OS that it is still supporting- that means Windows 7 and newer versions, It decided to change its practice this time and extend its service to older versions too because it didn't want the WannaCry ransomeware episode to be repeated again. During the attack in May, the malware ended up taking advantage of un-patched versions of windows to encrpyt millions of computers worldwide.

Commenting on the new security updates, Adrienne Hall, the head of Microsoft’s Cyber Defense Operations Center talked to the Guardian and said, “Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber-attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt [alternative name to WannaCry]."

According to industry insiders, the recently released NSA hacking tools, which were released online by an entity calling itself The Shadow Brokers has led Microsoft to believe that there is a potential for state-sanctioned attacks to take place sometime in the near future. The Shadow Brokers were the ones who were responsible for exposing the vulnerability, referred to by the NSA as EternalBlue, which led to WannaCry being able to replicate itself and cause so much chaos all around the globe.

The new security updates by Microsoft will be taking care of a total of 16 vulnerabilities, of which Microsoft believes 15 are critical.

While some welcomed Microsoft's move to include older versions, others weren't so happy and argued that by providing these updates it is just sending out a message to those recalcitrant corporations still using Windows XP to continue using the older version as if and when something serious comes up, Microsoft will update it anyway. However, one needs to take note that more older the Windows version more risk they are putting on the security of their OS and thus their organisation's future.

While WannaCry ransomware couldn't affect Windows XP, it did get to some systems which were running Windows Vista, which is a slightly newer unsupported version of OS.


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