EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.10.10

Microsoft and Insecurity: Vulnerabilities, Botnets, and a Whole Lot of Nerve

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand on glass

Summary: Windows insecurity a matter of persistence, Windows botnets a lost cause, and Microsoft’s staff interferes with security policy

From One Critical Vulnerability to Another

THE security problems in Windows are a never-ending problem. Those patches that we mentioned last week arrived on Patch Tuesday, as usual. Here are some of last week’s articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4] and indication that Microsoft may be silencing researchers again:

Microsoft Exploits Talk Dropped From RSA Agenda

An RSA Conference presentation on Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) application hacks and exploits that was originally slated for Tuesday was canceled, although it’s unclear why.

An RSA Conference spokesperson told Channelweb.com on Tuesday that the session appears to have been canceled in early January, but didn’t offer a reason for the cancellation. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on whether the session was canceled at Microsoft’s behest.

Whether Microsoft was behind this or not, the company definitely had been doing such things before. There’s security through obscurity and security through gagging. And in other news, “Microsoft resumes XP patch distribution; says rootkit remover coming soon”

In mid-February, Microsoft halted automatic distribution of one of its Windows patches, blaming the interaction of the patch with already-present malware on users’ systems for a rash of blue-screen-of-death reports among XP users.

Microsoft would love to just blame “a rootkit”, but this was caused by lack of security in the first place. It is a circular trap that still has Microsoft deserving at least some of the blame. This problem was also covered in [1, 2].

In other news, we soon learn that “patchy Windows patching leaves users insecure,” according to Secunia.

Windows users need to patch their systems an average of every five days to stay ahead of security vulnerabilities, according to a study this week.

The numbers come from a company called Secunia which just happens to be developing an all-in-one patching tool to reduce update headaches for consumers.

Stats from the two million existing users of Secunia’s free Personal Software Inspector tool show the average home user needs an average of 75 patches from 22 different vendors to be fully secure. The complexity of patching means that most users are not even in the race, meaning that hackers hoping to exploit software vulnerabilities to infect vulnerable systems stay well ahead of the game.

Matters are further complicated by the variety of different update mechanisms applied by differing suppliers.

Secunia says that “The core of this patching issue is that the software industry has, so far, failed to come up with a unified patching solution that can help home users on a large scale; that is, encompassing all software programs” and as our reader put it, “Doesn’t Linux have a one-stop-shop for the distro? As long as you stick with the official “repository”, everything can be automatically updated, including the apps.”

From One Windows Botnet to Another

Microsoft has a new zero-day vulnerability in its hands and the attempt to suspend Windows botnets is of course futile. There are just too many Windows botnets out there.

Spamhaus: Microsoft’s botnet cull had little effect

Microsoft’s takedown of the Waledac botnet has not been effective, according to some security researchers.

The throttling of Waledac, which Microsoft claimed to have achieved by means of legal action last week, has led to no appreciable reduction of junk mail coming from the botnet, anti-spam organisation Spamhaus told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.

We wrote about the Waledac takedown in [1, 2, 3]. Here is more new information about it:

Well, criticism has come from two main areas: Firstly, as Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks Inc. , a security solutions provider, told The Wall Street Journal, the Internet addresses that Microsoft’s lawsuit brought down could be a small percentage of those used by hackers to control the network. “The botnet will survive in many cases,” said Nazario.

And Richard Cox, the chief information officer at anti-spam service Spamhaus told ComputerWorld: “If this did affect spam, we haven’t noticed… Waledac was not a high threat; it’s less than 1% of spam traffic.”

On the face of it, Microsoft Windows may rely on Free software to secure the Web from itself.

From Microsoft to Apple

Apple is suing Linux (we covered this in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). Apple becomes more of a fighting company (an aggressor), not a pacifier.

Apple is also hiring from Microsoft, based on this report about Window Snyder.

Window Snyder’s first day at Apple was Monday, according to PC World. While it noted that Apple was the “third browser-maker in the past five years that has employed Snyder,” it did not indicate whether she would work on the Safari browser or some other technology for the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Microsoft was spreading lies about Firefox (and sometimes GNU/Linux too), but even Snyder, who had worked for Microsoft, told them off for it*. It all happened when she worked for Mozilla, but she luckily left after using her Mozilla hat to praise Microsoft. She is going to Apple now.

From US DOJ to Microsoft

Microsoft’s fairly new hire from the US DOJ is upsetting many people. Scott Charney’s remarks [1, 2, 3] led to some strong reactions. “Blow me,” says this one article from iStockAnalyst to Microsoft:

In short, these machines are infested (not infected, infested) because their operating system has historically been full of security holes (this has improved, especially in Windows 7, to be fair.)

So what does Microsoft propose?

So who would foot the bill? “Maybe markets will make it work,” Charney said. But an Internet usage tax might be the way to go. “You could say it’s a public safety issue and do it with general taxation,” he said.

That’s nice.

Sell an insecure operating system and then get someone else to pay a tax because they bought an arguably-defective product you sold?
How about this instead Microsoft?

For each computer infested, the publisher of the operating system sold to that user is assessed a fine of US $100,000 by the Department of Justice.

Here is what The Atlantic argues:

Most opponents of a tax would say that software companies should be responsible for paying, since it’s their responsibility to develop a safe product. Indeed, some criticize Microsoft for advocating a tax as an excuse to spend less of their own money developing safer software.

Also see:

Microsoft’s Ideas for Making PCs Safer

Microsoft’s Scott Charney Calls For Disrupting Cybercrime Activities

Microsoft Security Chief proposes taxes to protect the Internet

Microsoft moots digital healthcare tax

Microsoft’s Ideas for Making PCs Safer

Microsoft and the Incredible ‘Internet Usage Tax’

Say It Ain’t So, Microsoft

Maybe Microsoft Vice President for Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney wanted to see if his audience was really awake. Maybe he entered a time warp and thought it was April 1st. Maybe someone gave him a funny cookie. Or maybe he really didn’t think it would be sheer lunacy to suggest levying an Internet tax on Americans to pay for cybersecurity.

[...]

What Were You Thinking, Scott?

Not satisfied with blaming and seeking to punish the victim, Charney then went on to suggest the imposition of a tax on Internet users to ensure cybersecurity.

“You could say it’s a public safety issue and do it with general taxation,” he said.

Really, Scott? Why should we the users pay for the ineptness of software vendors? And please, don’t give me that tired routine about the bad guys being out there always looking for flaws.

Let’s take an analogy from real life. When you’re a kid your parents tell you the rules for living safely. Don’t talk to strangers or take candy from them. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t walk down dark streets or alleys at night. Never walk between a parked van and the wall, especially at night. Keep your doors locked.

Even some Microsoft boosters disagree with Microsoft on this, whereas most are unable to sincerely criticise it [1, 2, 3].
______
* Microsoft hates real numbers, so it manufactures its own.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. The War on Privacy Escalated

    People's ability to behave freely and speak freely (without scrutiny from above) is running out of time; the tracking of people's every word, movement and thought is a tyrannical pivot many are conditioned to accept as "necessary" even though those standing to gain the most are perpetrators of abuse at higher levels



  2. Diversity and Inclusion: When Corporations Hijack or Co-opt Social Causes

    Whether minorities care to realise it or not (each person is a minority in one particular place/context or some particular aspect), corporations seek to control the narratives surrounding popular movements, facilitating social control and thus corporate power (exercising control over nonprofit communities that cannot be bought)



  3. Thirteen Years of Techrights This Year

    We're the survivor of a dying breed of sites, which are largely dedicated to FOSS-centric news



  4. Tell Lawyers That 'Privilege' Without Encryption is Just a Mirage

    The sad truth that law firms claim to respect privacy and security; they do in principle, whereas in practice they respect neither



  5. Links 25/8/2019: Happy Birthday to Linux, Enlightenment DR 0.23.0 Release

    Links for the day



  6. Openwashing Report: It's Not Just Microsoft, But Microsoft is by Far the Biggest Facilitator of That

    A weekly roundup looking back at distortion if not intentional misuse of the term "Open Source"; Microsoft is still working hard and spending a lot of money to control the narrative (e.g. to limit "Open Source" to what's on its proprietary platform, GitHub)



  7. Patent Maximalists Refuse to Accept That Their War on Patent Quality Also Dooms a Pan-European Patent Court System

    The EPO‘s embrace of patent maximalists’ agenda, which necessarily means significant decreases in patent quality (and deviation/departure from the EPC), dooms patent certainty; it also, however, dooms the Unitary Patent (UPC) because an extension of this rogue regime to the court system won’t be tolerated



  8. Links 24/8/2019: Wayland’s Weston 7.0 and More

    Links for the day



  9. Outsourcing to Microsoft and Openwashing as a Service (OaaS): This is the Linux Foundation in 2019

    The concept of "Open" at the Linux Foundation gives room for thought; are things really being opened or mostly marketed as "Open" and, if so, is the Foundation more like a marketing agency?



  10. Links 23/8/2019: Wine 4.0.2 Released, Removing Qt 4 From Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  11. Links 22/8/2019: KDE ISO Image Writer, GNU Parallel ‘Jesper Svarre’

    Links for the day



  12. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: A Free (as in Freedom) Library, and Federation of Advocates

    "This library is not just for cultural works, but also for software."



  13. Linux Foundation's Linux.com in 2019: Zero Articles (Nothing Original) and a Terrible, Rookie New Design

    Linux.com has become a curated syndicator of news (edited by one single Microsoft proponent); the site has also eliminated its traditional design in favour of something only 'hipsters' can appreciate



  14. Managing IP as Team UPC's Megaphone and Lobbying Front

    Managing IP is lying on behalf of Team UPC yet again; the site's long history promoting the UPC hasn't ended even when prospects of the UPC are slim to none



  15. No More Rights for EPO Staff?

    The oppression and the crackdown on labour rights in Europe's second-largest institution has deepened to the point where staff is paid as little as is legally possible



  16. Links 22/8/2019: GNOME 3.33.91, Systemd 243 RC2, Cockpit 201, Ubuntu Touch OTA-10, FreeIPMI 1.6.4

    Links for the day



  17. Some Patent Attorneys Dislike Techrights Not Because It's Wrong But Because Software Patents Are Wrong (and Sometimes Illegal)

    Odd rants which misuse common law and ignore alleged Fair Use (and misinterpretation of copyright law, for censorship purposes) would have people believe that we're wrong; but it's more likely that the person in question is jealous, insecure, or offended by our stance on patent scope, which is very much rooted in the law itself (and the views widely held by software developers globally)



  18. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Distro-libre and feature-schema

    "Every time a distro does not suit a user's purposes, and it is less work to adapt the distro on one's own than to affect the distro in any other way, a distro is born."



  19. Links 21/8/2019: Dell's XPS 13, Mesa 19.2 RC1, Librem Update

    Links for the day



  20. Links 21/8/2019: Open Source POWER, Alpine 3.10.2, Netrunner 19.08

    Links for the day



  21. Edward as a Nodder to Team UPC Kool-Aid

    Bristows LLP is at it again and it's getting pathetic, not just dishonest as usual



  22. Guest Post: António Campinos' European Patent Office Redefines Modern Slavery in the Heart of Europe in 2019

    The European Patent Office’s (EPO) President António Campinos — like his predecessor Battistelli — emulates Chinese labour practices



  23. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: There is More Than One Iceberg Ahead

    "This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about "de-commoditizing protocols" in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software."



  24. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  25. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  26. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  27. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  28. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  29. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  30. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts