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Be aware of Bluekeep, the vulnerability sitting in your computer

Bluekeep is a brand new software vulnerability that is making waves - so many in fact, that even the NSA is asking you to take it seriously. If you’re interested in keeping your computer safe from internet nasties (and let's face it, you should be), then you need to know about Bluekeep.

What is Bluekeep?

Bluekeep is a software vulnerability in older versions of Windows (specifically, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2008). It’s got everyone at Windows especially riled up - as well as the lovely folks at the National Security Agency, because of the way that the vulnerability would allow a virus to spread.

Back in 2017 the virus on everybody’s mind was WannaCry. This was a particularly awful virus that found its way into the NHS computer systems, as well as hundreds of thousands of other government machines across the world. It was an incredibly destructive piece of ransomware, and stopped people from accessing their files or even logging into their machine - and it travelled through networks, meaning you didn’t need to click an infected link to be infected yourself. As you can expect, this did a huge amount of damage.

Like WannaCry, BlueKeep is a software vulnerability that is ‘wormable’. This means you don’t need lots of people to click a link for lots of computers to be infected - you only need one person to click a link once, and that initial click could help a virus spread from one computer to the next. The vulnerability is in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) - one of the ways that IT support technicians access your machine when you need remote assistance. A virus that attacks this vulnerability could end up infecting a huge number of machines in a short space of time.

What can I do?

Bluekeep is another vulnerability in a long line of vulnerabilities which viruses are going to be particularly effective against - if you’re running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2008 or any operating systems that Windows has stopped offering support for. If you are running an outdated version of Windows, or one of the Windows systems on the list above, you will need to take action. 

The most important thing you can do is update your machine. This means ensuring that automatic updates are turned on - if you got sick of waiting Windows to configure and update in the past, and turned those updates off, you will not be able to receive the patch for Bluekeep. It’s incredibly important that, as annoying as they are, you keep allowing Windows to update - because otherwise, viruses can get through.

If you do have automatic updates on, or you’re still leaving them turned off but you want the patch for Bluekeep, head to the settings and click check for updates. You’ll then be able to install any that you’re missing. If you are running Windows 8 or Windows 10, then you can rest easy - there is no such vulnerability for viruses to exploit in these operating systems. 

You should also consider regularly backing up your important files, so that if disaster does strike you can regain access to your computer without having to send some dodgy individuals some Bitcoin.

The other thing to consider is moving to a more updated operating system, such as Windows 10. The cut-off for support to Windows 7 moves ever closer, at which point, it doesn’t matter how many new and innovative forms of viruses and ransomware come out - Microsoft isn’t likely to offer any fixes at all.

In addition, when Microsoft does offer security patches for vulnerabilities like Bluekeep, each update comes with notes on what is being fixed. And often, the security issue is on all previous versions of Windows - so although it's been found on Windows 8, it's also present in Windows 7, XP, Vista, etc. Phishers then just need to read Microsoft's own notes on this vulnerability, and target computers running software that is no longer supported by Windows. As such, it's especially important to update.

You can find out more about support for Windows 7 ending here.

If in doubt, talk to your IT support team

We understand that waiting for your computer to install updates can be frustrating, but it really is one of the most important things you can do to keep your machine protected. If you’re feeling uncertain about Bluekeep, you want to know whether you are running one of the operating systems that are vulnerable to viruses, or you’re interested in moving to a new operating system, we can help. Give our team a call on 0191 482 0444.

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