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Google Researchers Find “Worst” Windows RCE Flaw

Google Project Zero researchers Tavis Ormandy and Natalie Silvanovich claim to have found a critical vulnerability in Windows. The details of the flaw will likely be disclosed in 90 days from now even if a patch is not available.

Google Project Zero researchers Tavis Ormandy and Natalie Silvanovich claim to have found a critical vulnerability in Windows. The details of the flaw will likely be disclosed in 90 days from now even if a patch is not available.

Ormandy announced on Friday on Twitter that he and Silvanovich had discovered “the worst Windows remote code exec [vulnerability] in recent memory.”

The expert has not shared any details, but he has clarified that their exploit works against default Windows installations, and the attacker does not need to be on the same local area network as the victim. He also said the attack is “wormable.”

Despite not releasing any technical details on the vulnerability, some members of the industry have criticized the Google Project Zero researchers for making the existence of the flaw public.

Contacted by SecurityWeek, Microsoft has provided the following statement: “Windows has 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.” 

Google typically gives companies 90 days to patch vulnerabilities found by its researchers before making their details public, but the deadline is only 7 days if the weakness has been exploited in attacks.

In November, Project Zero disclosed the details of an actively exploited zero-day affecting the Windows kernel after Microsoft failed to release a fix.

More recently, in February, Google researcher Ivan Fratric made public the details and proof-of-concept (PoC) code for a potentially serious vulnerability affecting the Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. Microsoft patched the vulnerability a few weeks later.

In the past years, Google disclosed the details of several Windows vulnerabilities after 90 days. The search giant made some changes to its disclosure policy in February 2015 due to criticism from Microsoft and members of the industry, but the company continues to strictly apply its 90-day deadline.

*updated with statement from Microsoft

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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