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

01.04.11

Microsoft Cannot Provide Security

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Indecision

Summary: A roundup of security news showing what an utterly poor job Microsoft is doing when it comes to securing customers’ systems and telling them the truth

WE HAVE not been covering these issues for several months now, but over the weekend there was time to catch up with about 2 months of security news. This post contains a concise summary of some key security problems Microsoft has been having, with fresh examples towards the end (a lot of bad news around the Christmas period).

Let us begin with the not-so-distant examples of DLL hijacking. “Most Microsoft DLL Hijacking Vulnerabilities Remain Unpatched” said this report which implied neglect and irresponsibility from Microsoft. They had not patched or addressed known problems, as usual.

Many new flaws were found in Windows, including one that evades Windows’ UAC pseudo-security. There was a privilege escalation exploit and an issue with buggy Internet Explorer [1, 2], whose low quality gives crackers many opportunities to hurt its users. Over Christmas there were many headlines about an Internet Explorer zero-day warning [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Microsoft just warned about it but did not patch it. Microsoft also said that there was no exploit and soon enough it dealt with a second zero-day vulnerability. It did not take long for exploits to surface and IDG said that researchers revealed attack code for new IE zero-day vulnerability. It’s important to remember that it’s terrible to leave people in this state over the holidays. It prevents some people from taking a break or be mentally peaceful. Microsoft produced only a workaround, a hack [1, 2]. It wasn’t a patch. Soon thereafter, on December 30th, it was announced that Microsoft was also warning about Microsoft Word attacks (which means that exploits exist too).

“The priority is reputation rather than the safety of systems. Microsoft’s financial security comes before real security.”Microsoft deserves mocking for this. When there was previously an IE vulnerability the company produced nothing for months, until December according to IDG (also see this other IDG report or this report which says that “Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday for November does not include a fix for a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer”). Microsoft left users vulnerable for far too long simply because it could get away with it, under the assumption that many users are stuck with Windows. One must not allow Microsoft to fool the public by claiming its responses to be fastest because only a Microsoft spin site like Neowin would so conveniently ignore silent patches and recent studies on the subject. Neowin parrots Microsoft when it says that Microsoft patched 247 exploits in 2010. It’s inaccurate because those numbers are fake. Many more patches were applied silently, in order to give Microsoft bragging opportunities (hinged on falsehoods). For PR reasons, Microsoft just does not deliver patches sometimes. The priority is reputation rather than the safety of systems. Microsoft’s financial security comes before real security.

The matter of fact is, Microsoft can’t even secure Windows itself. “Hackers hijack Microsoft’s servers for fake-drug spam” said this recent headline and on the seventh of December Microsoft was warned of the “protected mode” flaws we mentioned earlier. This has not been addressed yet.

Security researchers have issued a warning to Microsoft that the much-vaunted Protected Mode introduced into Internet Explorer in recent releases offers little or no protection in its current form.

When it comes to patches, some people will reject them anyway, as yesterday's post about AP downtime ought to teach everyone.

Going about a month back, we also find reports relating to the handing of Windows sources code to Chinese hackers, which led to reports that we missed such as this one (“Chinese firm hired Blaster hacking group, says U.S. cable”), this one (“Leaked Cables: Chinese Hackers Used Microsoft Source Code To Attack Google & US Government”), or the redacted cable itself (“US embassy cables: China uses access to Microsoft source code to help plot cyber warfare, US fears”). How about this one (“China Used Microsoft Source Code To Hack Google — And You?”) which says:

A State Department cable released by WikiLeaks says the Chinese government used Microsoft source code in its attacks on Google and in its cyber warfare efforts in general. (Via The Guardian)

How did they get their hands on Microsoft’s closely guarded source code, you might ask?

Well, two Chinese IT security companies, Topsec and Cnitsec, are licensed to access and use Microsoft’s source code. In yet another example of incredibly blurred lines between the government and business in China, those companies gave the source code to the government.

Later in December, a Microsoft booster called Emil Protalinski spoke about Microsoft’s largest Patch Tuesday ever and so did some other sites [1, 2]. We covered this at the time, but the important point to be made is that invisible patches are not being named or counted by Microsoft, so the real numbers can be much greater.

From older reports we also learned about the effects of Zeus [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], which in a world where one in two Windows PCs is said to be a zombie PC is doing a lot of damage despite a token of response from Microsoft [1, 2]. The headlines are “Microsoft: Botnet infection plague continues despite wins” and “Zeus Trojan defeats Microsoft security tool”. “Microsoft tool unable to detect new versions of Zeus” says another report.

Neil J. Rubenking writes to warn people that Passware found Bitlocker in Windows to be broken:

Password-recovery experts at Passware warned Friday that the security of Microsoft’s Bitlocker whole-disk encryption is seriously compromised on a computer configured to use sleep mode. The same is true of the open-source TrueCrypt whole-disk encryption tool.

Now we come to some of the latest news. “Microsoft ActiveX Security Bugs ‘Highly Critical’” said Ziff Davis some days ago:

Researchers at Secunia are warning users about ActiveX bugs the firm described as ‘highly critical.’ Microsoft is unaware of any attacks targeting the issues.

[...]

Besides the ActiveX bugs, the company is also investigating a denial-of-service issue impacting IIS FTP 7.5, which ships with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Proof of concept exploit code has already been made public, according to Nazim Lala, IIS security program manager at Microsoft.

It relates to an older report from the same publication:

With attack code public, Microsoft said it is investigating a report of a new vulnerability impacting Internet Explorer.

“Microsoft reports drop in data breaches” said this less-than-recent headline and shortly afterwards it turned out that Microsoft messed up in a major way. To name some headlines, “Microsoft Corporation Cloud Security Breached”, “BPOS: a data leak in Microsoft’s cloud”, “Microsoft BPOS cloud service hit with data breach”, and “Microsoft Cloud Data Breach Heralds Things to Come”. Quoting from that last one:

Microsoft announced that data contained within its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) has been downloaded by non-authorized users, possibly making it the first major cloud-based data breach.

[...]

Encryption isn’t the final word. Even encrypted data has a history of being compromised, usually due to bugs in the encryption software.

All of this means that, if your business is going to put data into the cloud, you will have to factor in the very real possibility it will be made public at some point. It will happen. It’s just a matter of when, and what damage will be caused. It would be interesting to visit the offices of Microsoft, Google, and others to see if they eat their own dog food: Does Google rely on Google Docs for all of its hypersensitive business data? Somehow I suspect not, although I look forward to being proved wrong. There are laws in place covering data breaches, requiring companies to enforce reasonable security systems, but none of that amounts to a hill of beans once the data has escaped the cloud. And should stolen data be turned into a bit torrent, as appears to be the fashion at the moment, there’s absolutely no chance of discreetly cleaning up by getting the data back from those who stole it.

Wired has just taken a “Four-Day Dive Into Stuxnet’s Heart”, noting at least that it’s a Windows problem:

It is a mark of the extreme oddity of the Stuxnet computer worm that Microsoft’s Windows vulnerability team learned of it first from an obscure Belarusian security company that even the Redmond security honchos had never heard of.

The sophisticated worm, which many computer experts believe was created as a specific attempt to sabotage Iran’s nuclear power plant centrifuges, has written a new chapter in the history of computer security. Written to affect the very Siemens components used at Iran’s facilities, some analysts have even speculated it may have been the work of a state, rather than of traditional underground virus writers.

For more about Stuxnet’s damage see the posts below.

  1. Ralph Langner Says Windows Malware Possibly Designed to Derail Iran’s Nuclear Programme
  2. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  3. Who Needs Windows Back Doors When It’s So Insecure?
  4. Windows Insecurity Becomes a Political Issue
  5. Windows, Stuxnet, and Public Stoning
  6. Stuxnet Grows Beyond Siemens-Windows Infections
  7. Has BP Already Abandoned Windows?
  8. Reports: Apple to Charge for (Security) Updates
  9. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  10. New Flaw in Windows Facilitates More DDOS Attacks
  11. Siemens is Bad for Industry, Partly Due to Microsoft
  12. Microsoft Security Issues in The British Press, Vista and Vista 7 No Panacea
  13. Microsoft’s Negligence in Patching (Worst Amongst All Companies) to Blame for Stuxnet
  14. Microsoft Software: a Darwin Test for Incompetence
  15. Bad September for Microsoft Security, Symantec Buyout Rumours
  16. Microsoft Claims Credit for Failing in Security
  17. Many Windows Servers Being Abandoned; Minnesota Goes the Opposite Direction by Giving Microsoft Its Data
  18. Windows Users Still Under Attack From Stuxnet, Halo, and Zeus
  19. Security Propaganda From Microsoft: Villains Become Heroes
  20. Security Problems in iOS and Windows
  21. Eye on Security: BBC Propaganda, Rootkits, and Stuxnet in Iran’s Nuclear Facilities
  22. Eye on Security: ClamAV Says Windows is a Virus, Microsoft Compromises Mac OS X, and Stuxnet Runs Wild
  23. Windows Kernel Vulnerability for Thanksgiving, Insecurity Used for Surveillance Again
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. Great News: While IBM et al Try to Undermine Patent Reform the Supreme Court Deepens the Reform in TC Heartland Case

    In a unanimous decision, with the court ruling 8-0 against TC Heartland, the monkey business in East Texas (beneficial to patent trolls and large businesses that leverage software patents) may have just come to an end



  2. Speculations About Battistelli's End of Term, Campinos at EUIPO, and Failed UPC Ambitions

    Rumours and speculations surrounding the fate of the EPO's leadership now that the UPC gravy train is stuck again and Battistelli's protector, Jesper Kongstad, is about to leave



  3. Martijn van Dam is Wrong to Believe That Battistelli's Abuses Are Somehow Acceptable or Tolerable Because His Term is Possibly Ending

    Coverage of Martijn van Dam’s stance (he is the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs) reveals that economic gain trumps ethics and justice, irrespective of what the law says



  4. Media and Staff Association Elections at EPO and WIPO Are Compromised

    A campaign of abuse (legal bullying) and gifting to the media, combined with a wide-ranging assault on critics who represent the interests of staff, have led WIPO and EPO down the route to totality



  5. New Documents Help Demonstrate That ILO Delivers Institutional Injustice to EPO Employees and Cushions Team Battistelli

    The International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) delivers not justice but merely the illusion of justice, probably in defiance of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)



  6. Leaked: 2017 European Inventor Award Finalists, or Stooges Whom the Tyrant Battistelli Exploits for PR Purposes and Media Manipulation

    The stupidest ceremony in Europe (turning serious science into something sketchy such as Eurovision) is disliked among EPO staff and is exploited by the person who destroys the EPO (Benoît Battistelli) to pretend all is fine and dandy, at huge expense to the Office (as extraordinary as about 5 million Euros for a ~2-hour show)



  7. EPO: Can the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Still Save It?

    Genuine concerns about the slow process at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lack of progress at ILO, which coincide with weakening of the unions and threat to jobs of patent examiners (leaving ordinary Europeans more vulnerable to meritless patent lawsuits)



  8. Links 21/5/2017: Linux 3.18.53, Tizen 4.0

    Links for the day



  9. Cloudflare's Enemy is Software Patents, Not Just One Software Patent or One Patent Troll

    With a bounty of $50,000, which is likely less than the cost of legal defense, Cloudflare looks for help with its own case rather than the underlying issues that need tackling worldwide



  10. Patent Laws -- and Especially Eligibility of Software Patents -- Are Being Hijacked by Large Corporations and Their Front Groups

    Intervention by large multinational corporations and their lawyers, front groups, etc. (like the classic lobbying model) gives room for concern in multiple continents where most software development is done



  11. Links 18/5/2017: Catching Up With the Past Three Days

    Links for the day



  12. The US Supreme Court Consults USPTO Director Michelle Lee Regarding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Which is Invalidating Software Patents With CAFC's Approval

    Software patents continue to get knocked out by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) whose introduction of PTAB gave a helping hand to companies that are susceptible to abusive litigation (with bogus patents)



  13. IBM and Its Revolving Doors Lobby Are Plotting to Undermine Supreme Court Rulings to Restore Patentability of Software

    IBM has become so evil that it is now trying to steal democracy, label programmers "thieves", and basically attack the rule of law by extra-judicially overturning a Supreme Court decision



  14. 3 Years After the Alice Case at the Supreme Court the Plague of Software Patents is Easier to Cope With

    Litigation figures are down, rejection rates of software patents remain high, and only spin (e.g. cherry-picking) or constant lobbying can save those who used to profit from software patents



  15. The Attacks of Patent Trolls as Outlined in the Media This Past Week

    An outline of some of the latest troll cases to be aware of and their consequences too (e.g. software patents being used to literally shut down entire programs)



  16. Links 14/5/2017: Linux 4.12 RC1 and KDE Frameworks 5.34.0

    Links for the day



  17. Industry Giants Challenge Qualcomm's Patent Practices While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Closely Examines Such Behavior

    Scrutiny of Qualcomm's patent aggression and coercion -- scrutiny that can profoundly change the way software patents, SEPs and FRAND are viewed -- as seen in various amicus briefs (amici) from industry giants that are affected



  18. Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette Questions Whether Patents Work When Patent Scope is Too Broad

    Citing MIT economist (and MacArthur “genius”) Heidi Williams, Professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette from Stanford challenges old myths and quotes: “we still have essentially no credible empirical evidence on the seemingly simple question of whether stronger patent rights—either longer patent terms or broader patent rights—encourage research investments.”



  19. OIN is Still a Distraction Unless We Want GNU/Linux to Coexist With Software Patents (Rather Than Eliminate Those)

    Another wave of media coverage by/for the Open Invention Network (OIN) necessitates a reminder of what OIN stands for and why it is not tackling the biggest problems which Free/Open Source software (FOSS) faces



  20. Links 13/5/2017: Neptune Plasma 5 ISO, a Shift to Free (FOSS) Databases

    Links for the day



  21. Countries With a Dozen European Patents Are an Easy Photo-Op 'Sell' for Battistelli While the EPO's Demise is Largely Ignored by the Patent Microcosm

    Behind the façade of legitimacy, the EPO suffers from an incompetent, insecure and delusional boss, whose actions will almost certainly lead to the collapse of both the Office and the entire Organisation (whose founding document he routinely shreds to pieces)



  22. Our Assessment: Unitary Patent (UPC) Will Crumble Along With Battistelli's Regime at the EPO

    A reflection and an opinion on where the EPO stands and what it means for the UPC, which doesn't seem to be going anywhere (it's all talk and lobbying)



  23. The European Patent Office Has a Long History/Track Record of 'Screwing' Contractors

    The European Patent Office (EPO) appears to have quite an extensive track record/reputation for ‘screwing’ contractors and then misusing immunity to get away with it



  24. Links 12/5/2017: Wine 2.8, Kdenlive 17.04.1, NHS Windows Syndrome

    Links for the day



  25. Links 11/5/2017: New OpenShot, GIMP, and GNOME (3.24.2)

    Links for the day



  26. The Sickness of the EPO – Part IX: Using Confidential Medical Records as a Weapon Against Staff

    In defiance/violation of labour laws and medical oaths etc. the EPO is passing around medical information, either for dismissal pretexts or a sort of blackmail -- a serious abuse in its own right



  27. The EPO is in Disarray and Additional Complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) May Be Imminent

    Team Battistelli reaps what it has sown, as complaints are being made to a court with “47 member states [that] are contracting parties to the Convention,” (European Convention on Human Rights) according to Wikipedia



  28. By Promoting the UPC, in Defiance of Public Will, the EPO Has Become Patent Trolls' Best Friend

    The patent–industrial complex, aided by the EPO under Battistelli's iron-fisted reign, is trying to convince us that the UPC is coming soon and that it is desirable (it's neither of those things)



  29. Links 10/5/2017: Mesa 17.1, Git 2.13, Qt Creator 4.3 RC1, MINIX 3.4 RC6

    Links for the day



  30. Team UPC Still Twists and Fabricates Statements to Make It Seem Like Unitary Patent is Happening Soon

    The Unified Patent Court (UPC), a terrible system which was envisioned and covertly constructed by those who stand to benefit/profit from injunctions and trolling, is not going anywhere, but media which is dominated by Team UPC would have us believe otherwise


CoPilotCo

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

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts