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11.10.09

Microsoft Lies About Security

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guerra al capitol

Summary: Security propaganda from Microsoft tackled yet again in light of this week’s security FUD against Free software

AS WE showed two years ago, Microsoft knowingly hides security problems in its software and sometimes fixes these problems without reporting it to the public. It can be very frequent a routine. This way, when outsiders compare the number of security problems across different products/vendors, they merely compare apples and oranges (Red Hat and Firefox are popular victims of such disinformation). Microsoft is cheating.

Earlier this week Slashdot revealed that Microsoft’s attitude when it comes to security of its on-line services is more or less the same. To make matters worse, Microsoft is trying to gag those who know the truth. From Slashdot’s summary:

Microsoft Tries To Censor Bing Vulnerability

Microsoft’s bing search engine has a vulnerability with its cash-back promotion, which impacts both merchants and customers. In traditional Microsoft fashion, the company has responded to the author of the breaking bing cashback expoit with a cease & desist letter, rather than by fixing the underlying security problem.

Here is the original post.

The purpose of my post was to show an implementation problem, not to encourage defrauding Microsoft. I am surprised they would go through this much trouble to make me take down information that is obvious to anyone reading their documentation. I don’t like dealing with lawyers, so I’ve decided to comply with their request. The post is gone. I will still write a “non-technical” post on all the problems I see with Bing Cashback in the next few days.

The reason why hundreds of millions of Windows PCs are zombies is not just because of negligent users; it’s also because of a company that puts its image and its profits before the safety of computer users. It would shamelessly lie to the public as long as its shareholders’ interests are obeyed. Suffice to say, Free software does not have the same inherent deficiency which is a conflict of interests (honesty versus selfishness). Apache is a good example of this.

According to The Register, botmasters have found new ways of sending instructions to Windows zombies. It’s not the fault of Google, which merely stores arbitrary strings of texts like many other services.

Cyber criminals’ love affair with cloud computing just got steamier with the discovery that Google’s AppEngine was tapped to act as the master control channel that feeds commands to large networks of infected computers.

Sadly enough, we are all left at a dangerous state where cyberwar is said to be imminent, with hordes of Windows zombies recruited to such a task.

CBS News reports that cyber war is a reality that, according to cyber experts, the US will have to be prepared for – and soon.

It is worth adding that the US presidency now has the legal power to shut off the Internet and physical bombing of botmasters is one of the proposed strategies shall disaster strike.

“Security — including national security — must never be put in proprietary hands.”What does Microsoft do about this? It serves the interests of shareholders, which means pretending that Windows (and other Microsoft products) is secure, even by fabrication and outright lies. Security — including national security — must never be put in proprietary hands. It is a recipe for disaster.

One of our readers, pointing to this old gem about password encryption, remarks: “It’s pathetic to see how much Gates has been able to hold back computing. His current antics are not new. However, now his antics involve much more outsourced marketing and tremendous investment in lobbying firms.

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8 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 10, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Gravatar

    “It’s not the fault of Google, which merely stores arbitrary strings of texts like many other services.”
    And it is not the fault of Microsoft either, who just makes an OS that can run any program, including malware. But if the zombie programs take advantage of things like security vulnerabilities or holes in Windows, that is certainly MS’s fault, and on that here is a quote by Woody:
    From http://www.askwoody.com/2009/autorun-patch-kb-967715-mess/:
    “(Remember, this is the worm that has drawn a $250,000 bounty from Microsoft – and the folks at MS can’t even plug one of its simplest infection vectors.)”

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This worm was the fault of Microsoft; it exploited a massive flaw.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, actually several security flaws in Windows, which are all MS’s fault. And yep, that is what the last quote exactly was about. But to be honest the Linux desktop had it’s share of similarly stupid features as well:
    http://lwn.net/Articles/178409/
    http://lwn.net/Articles/178411/
    http://www.geekzone.co.nz/foobar/6229
    http://www.geekzone.co.nz/foobar/6236
    http://lwn.net/Articles/318755/

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    More link on this:
    http://lwn.net/Articles/320707/
    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/17/1526244

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    BTW, on Vista the security flaws are less severe, because Vista has ASLR which prevents one of the flaws from being exploited, and the AutoPlay dialog also got changed in Vista so it is easier to tell that the AutoPlay entry created by the worm is fake. Recent versions of Linux has ASLR too, as well as Mac OS X.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Don’t forget that Linux usually gets its software (‘alien’ files) from trusted repositories.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, I remember Autopackage aiming to change this, but it kind of failed, I think.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s probably to do with how proprietary software is sold, not distributed. Marketplace/Store paradigm is growing though, especially in phones.

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