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. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  2. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  3. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  4. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  5. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  6. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  7. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  8. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  9. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  10. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  11. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  12. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  13. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  14. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  15. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  16. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  17. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  18. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  19. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  20. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  21. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  22. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  23. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?



  24. Links 14/10/2014: CAINE 6, New RHEL, Dronecode

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft's Disdain for Women Steals the Show at a Women's Event

    Steve Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, is still too tactless to lie to the audience, having been given --through subversive means -- a platform at a conference that should have shunned Microsoft, a famously misogynistic company



  26. SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the 'Copyrights on APIs' Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

    Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas



  27. Patent Lawsuits Almost Halved After SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Software Patents

    The barrier for acceptance of software patent applications is raised in the United States and patent lawsuits, many of which involve software these days, are down very sharply, based on new figures from Lex Machina



  28. Links 13/10/2014: ChromeOS and EXT, Debian Resists Systemd Domination

    Links for the day



  29. Links 12/10/2014: Blackphone Tablet, Sony's Firefox OS Port

    Links for the day



  30. Links 9/10/2014: Free Software in Germany, Lenovo Tablets With Android

    Links for the day


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