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Re: Windows Messenger Pop-up spam
From: "Kevin Davis" <kevin.davis () mindless com>
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2004 00:13:14 -0500

On 2004-11-30 Kevin Davis wrote:
On 2004-11-30 Steven Trewick wrote:
Some people may have also gone into "services" and disabled the
messenger service.

Which will merely have lulled them into a false sense of security,
since the traffic is still making it to their IP stack. For windows
boxen, this is almost as good as "game over"

Not necessarily.  I have disabled the Messenger service.  This has
less to do with pop-ups as it does general security.  I have no need
for the Messenger service.  It is part of hardening a system to turn
off unneeded services.  Any unneeded service running is an unnecessary
risk as it may have other vulnerabilities (as we have seen with the
Messenger service and the sendmail daemon to name a few).  And yes, I
do have a firewall up and am behind a router so I wasn't getting hit
by pop-ups anyways.  Any box with XP SP2 installed should block the
Messenger traffic by default as well.  So it isn't "game over" for all
windows systems.

Anyone who has no firewall (doesn't have SP2 installed) and no router
and turns off the Messenger service would probably be lulled into a
false sense of security.

WTH are you people talking about? A computer that does not provide any
services does not need a firewall, because there is nothing to be
exploited remotely. One may argue that the IP stack itself may be
exploitable, however, how many bugs have shown up in the Windows IP
stack during the past few years? Now compare that to the bugs that have
shown up in $PERSONAL_FIREWALL_OF_YOUR_CHOICE. Hell, there have been
attacks that were possible only *because* there was a Personal Firewall
installed (W32\Witty.worm). Now you're saying that disabling unneded
services and keeping the system patched gives a false sense of security
whereas using Personal Firewalls does not?

I'm not sure what you were reading but it doesn't seem to be the same thing we are typing...

No, what I agreed to is that if someone turned off the *Messenger* service (not *all* services), has no router, no firewall, would possible lulled into a false security (by the fact that no pop-up messages would be appearing). And there was no lengthy discussion about fully patched systems (as far as I'm concerned, XP systems that don't have SP2 installed weren't fully patched) as you seem to be suggesting. You are introducing conditions that weren't being directly discussed as if they were.

I would contend that if you had X number of systems all installed with personal firewalls over the period of the last couple years versus the same number of systems with no firewall, there would be a lot more compromises on the ones without the firewalls. Nothing is foolproof. The patch you apply today may become tommorow's vulnerability. And for the security challenged user, it is far better to have them run a personal firewall which will block both inbound and outbound problems than to have them flapping out in the breeze unknowingly spreading dozens of worms and viruses or being much more susceptable to spyware. You do what you can and what is reasonable for the particular user's context. In a lot of cases, it is not reasonable to turn off ALL services that have the potential to listen on the network.

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