Microsoft says it has already patched the Windows exploits released by the Shadow Brokers group. The hacking tools, likely originating from the NSA, were released online yesterday, and Microsoft was able to test and confirm patches are already available for all currently supported versions of Windows. That does mean that older Windows XP or Windows Vista systems could still be vulnerable to three of the exploits released, but it’s unlikely that Microsoft will supply patches for these older versions of Windows as they’re already unsupported.
Microsoft’s response comes hours after unnecessary fear from several security researchers, including one who advised Windows users to turn off their machines for the weekend. Even NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden weighed in on the exploits, claiming that the “NSA did not warn Microsoft” about the leaked exploits. Microsoft itself seems to imply that the NSA didn’t warn the company. “Other than reporters, no individual or organization has contacted us in relation to the materials released by Shadow Brokers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to Reuters.
However, one security researcher, the grugq, claims that the NSA may have actually reported some of the bugs themselves. While Microsoft always acknowledges the source of security flaw reports, the grugq noticed there are no acknowledgements for patches (MS17-010) issued last month that fix some of the leaked NSA exploits. It’s possible that The Shadow Brokers or another group / individual tipped Microsoft to them in advance. Microsoft mysteriously delayed its Patch Tuesday release in February by a month in an unprecedented move, blaming a “last minute issue”. March’s Patch Tuesday included fixes for these leaked NSA exploits.
Either way, if you’re running Windows 7 or above then you’re safe from this round of exploits as long as you’ve applied all updates from Windows Update. If you’re still running Windows XP or Windows Vista then it’s time to look at something more modern as you’re open to these security flaws and many more that will remain unpatched and exploited.
Update, 6:15AM ET: Article updated with a statement from Microsoft.