The National Security Agency (NSA) has released a cybersecurity advisory for CVE-2019-0708—a vulnerability dubbed BlueKeep. Although Microsoft has issued a patch, potentially millions of machines are still unpatched and remain vulnerable.

Microsoft has warned that this flaw is potentially “wormable,” meaning it could spread without user interaction across the internet. We have seen devastating computer worms inflict damage on unpatched systems with wide-ranging impact, and are seeking to motivate increased protections against this flaw.

This is the type of vulnerability that malicious cyber actors frequently exploit through the use of software code that specifically targets the vulnerability.

For instance, the vulnerability could be exploited to conduct denial of service attacks. It is likely only a matter of time before remote exploitation tools are widely available for this vulnerability. NSA is concerned that malicious cyber actors will use the vulnerability in ransomware and exploit kits containing other known exploits, increasing capabilities against other unpatched systems.

In order to increase resilience against this threat while large networks patch and upgrade, there are additional measures that can be taken as described in the Microsoft CVE-2019-0708 security advisory

  • Block TCP Port 3389 at your firewalls, especially any perimeter firewalls exposed to the internet. This port is used by the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and will block attempts to establish a connection.
  • Enable Network Level Authentication. With NLA enabled, attackers would first have to authenticate to RDS in order to successfully exploit the vulnerability. NLA is available on the Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems.
  • Disable remote Desktop Services if they are not required. Disabling unused and unneeded services helps reduce exposure to security vulnerabilities overall and is a best practice even without the BlueKeep threat.