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RE: Security and EOL issues (was RE: WMF Exploit Patch released)
From: <Steveb () tshore com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:41:21 -0500

Hi all,

I must weigh in on this with an analogy.  Asking software companies to
offer free patches to software whose core technologies are considered
out of date by the mainstream industry is like asking Ford Motor company
to offer free airbag installations in all 1920 vintage automobiles. 

While I sympathies with those that feel that Microsoft is getting richer
by forcing upgrades in the name of tighter security, I really don't see
that as much of an ethical issue when looked at in light of how the real
world works.  In what other industry do we expect unlimited free
upgrades like we do from the computer software industry?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE free upgrades and free bug fixes!  I just
have to balance that with the realization that if the equipment that I'd
like to have a bug fixed on is out of date, I can't expect the
manufacturer to fix it for free.  

The rest of the capitalist world protects themselves from such
expectations in the form of limited time warranties.  Why should the
software world be any different?

Steve Bostedor
Bozteck VNCScan Enterprise Manager
http://www.vncscan.com


-----Original Message-----
From: Donald N Kenepp [mailto:don () videon-central com] 
Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 9:33 PM
To: 'Matthew Schiros'
Cc: info () footvision com; security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Security and EOL issues (was RE: WMF Exploit Patch released)

Hi Matthew,

  Perhaps I was too harsh in my response.  I understand your argument
that since Microsoft does not give others their source code, they should
be fully responsible for maintaining the code.  At the same time, they
have decided that rather than continuously patching the same piece of
software, they are going to do a major rewrite every three to five years
and sell it as a new system.

  Some bugs are design flaws that simply cannot be patched.  This is why
no matter whether we choose closed or open-source, we always have to
apply a certain amount of maintenance to our software.  With open
source, we are largely responsible for ourselves from day one.  While we
assume major flaws will be repaired, there is no guarantee that a fix
will ever be released.
With closed source, we can demand someone else fix it for a reasonable
in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable amount of time.  Eventually
the time and effort involved in patching something rather than replacing
it is simply not efficient, and in both cases, that someone else will
stop doing so.  The only relief with open source is that if no one but
you cares, you can still try to do it yourself.

  You are correct that I should not be addressing this as being directly
about the age of the OS.  This is not about patching vulnerabilities due
to the age of the OS, but rather due to the changes since this version
of the OS and other advancements in that time.  Compare AIX to Windows,
and AIX version X to Windows version X.  I do not know the AIX system
model, but it seems to have obsolete versions as well.  IBM ended
software support for AIX Base Operating System 4.3.3.  Perhaps IBM still
does release fixes for security flaws in 4.3.3 even though they have
declared its EOL.  Does it still release fixes for 3.2?  I would not
fault them for no longer supporting their older kernel versions past a
reasonable transition.
Eventually it becomes too much overhead that is better spent elsewhere.

  Every vendor releases new builds and patches, and inevitably there are
versions that should not be used because they are known to be vulnerable
and have been replaced.  I believe you will find that any operating
system, just like any other software program, has a point at which they
are no longer supported.  Should Adobe still be held responsible for
fixing security issues in Acrobat 3?

  It may be that developers or third-party vendors stop supporting the
older OS version.  In the case of open-source, a version is basically no
longer supported when the vast majority of the open-source community
simply stops trying to fix the old material and works on something new.
I am sure there are kernel bugs and security flaws that will never be
found, exploited, or patched for the Linux 2.0.0 kernel.  Linus has
passed off everything prior to 2.6.x to other maintainers, and most new
software expects you to use 2.4.x or 2.6.x.

  At what point should we start over rather than fixing fatal flaws?
Should Microsoft be putting time and effort into fixing fatal flaws in
Windows NT 3.x as well?  At what point would you rather IBM focus on
future development than spending time to fix a fatal flaw in AIX 4.3?

  If we are still using NT 4.0 on mission critical machines, we need to
ask why we are doing so.  What is our obligation to our customers to use
current software on mission-critical machines?  How much are bandages
and the time it takes to put them on costing us against the cost of a
new system that doesn't need as many bandages?  I push to get users and
companies off of operating systems that are obsolete, whether because
they have security exploits, because they are no longer cost effective
to maintain, or because they are no longer supported.  Sometimes I win,
sometimes not, but I always try.
 
  It doesn't matter whether we choose to move to open source or the next
Microsoft product; we shouldn't be using a system at the end of its life
if at all possible.  While WMF may be a high priority at the moment, I
would honestly say that the security design improvements and other
general improvements to the NT family since NT 4.0.SP6a should have been
a high priority before now.

  To your question regarding the NT 4.0 seg fault, Microsoft does still
have what they call "critical updates" for NT 4.0.  They do not feel
that the WMF flaw meets their definition of a critical flaw for NT 4.0,
so they may not put the extra effort forward until such point it meets
those criteria.
While it would be nice if NT 4.0 was easily fixed and happened to be
patched along with everything else, it isn't worthwhile to fix NT 4.0
bugs anymore at the cost of forward progress.  Microsoft threw a lot of
weight at this patch.  Should Microsoft have held the WMF patch release
until there was a fix for NT 4.0 and Windows 98?  Should they work 24/7
on a patch for them now?  How much weight is reasonable to throw at
those older systems?

  Perhaps it would be easier to see if rather than having names like
Windows 2000, XP, and 2003, we noted they are all NT version 5.x.  The
Microsoft product timelines might also be helpful:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryIntro.mspx

  Getting rid of NT 4.0 seems like something drastic because it is
arguably the first widespread and long-lived corporate version of
Windows to be EOLed.  I really wouldn't refer to it as a huge campaign
for years followed by a quick EOL, however.  It's been patched for
almost a decade with six major service releases and countless hotfixes.
There was at least a year of warning about its EOL, followed by an extra
two years of extended support due to high customer demand and agony over
it being the first major EOL announced.  This isn't under the blanket of
ending support; it's under the blanket of long since ended support.
Almost all software written for NT 4.0 still works on newer versions of
the OS.  The reason we don't see patches anymore is because the new OS
versions are becoming so different that usually the same patch doesn't
work for both, or only NT 4.0 requires the patch.

  I can understand skipping Windows 2K Server if you worried about it as
a beta for Active Directory.  I hope you skipped Windows Me.  I
understand budget issues and upgrade nightmares.

  I believe Windows Vista is NT 6.0, putting NT 4.0 two major kernel
versions and several NT 5.x releases behind.  The question becomes how
long you want your vendor to support each version of the products they
release, and how much effort you want them to put toward the older
releases.  I am glad Vista/Longhorn/Blackcomb was delayed for XPSP2 (NT
5.1's major security
revision) because it marked the beginning of a huge turn-around in
security efforts from Microsoft.  I don't feel things should be
similarly delayed for patches to NT 4.0.

  Sincerely,
    Donald


-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew Schiros [mailto:schiros () gmail com]
Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2006 11:22 PM
To: don () videon-central com
Cc: info () footvision com; security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: WMF Exploit Patch Released

Donald,
Perhaps I chose my words poorly.  My point was not that Microsoft was
using this patch as an attempt to push users away from NT 4.0.  I know
that NT 4 was has been EOL'd for some time now, and I'm aware that there
are many viable replacement OS's put out by Microsoft since.  At the
same time though, there's the issue of taking responsibility for your
software when you aren't willing to reveal the source and allow others
to make the fixes that you aren't willing to.  This isn't a matter of a
low-risk bug in a piece of legacy word processing software, it's a
highly dangerous exploit in software that, if its being used today, is
used on what's likely mission critical machines.

While I'd like to say that MS can't have its cake and eat it too, it
can.  It can spend years pushing a product, get everyone to use that
product, and then relatively quickly EOL that product, and get you to
move to something else.  It's a great business model, obviously, because
people keep buying, but at the same time, how many System V or AIX
exploits do you think appear that go unfixed because of the age of the
OS?  What kind of relationship do you have with your customers if you
just refuse to take responsibility for a drastic flaw under the blanket
of ending support?  Nobody is saying that Microsoft should be obligated,
or should even consider, doing anything like doing DirectX updates or
anything, just fix fatal flaws in already existing code. 
If it suddenly turned out that NT 4.0 seg faulted every time it recieved
an incomplete TCP packet (obviously this isn't the case, but whatever),
would you say that Microsoft had no obligation to fix that problem?

Matt
On 1/7/06, Donald N Kenepp <don () videon-central com> wrote:
Hi Matthew,

  Sadly, it isn't so much Microsoft saying you should upgrade for this

patch, but Microsoft saying you should have upgraded from Windows NT 
4.0 a long time ago.  NT 4.0 has been being retracted from the market 
since
2001.
It was declared closed for normal support in 2003.  They are now 
phasing
out
extended support in 2005.  Windows NT 4.0 first showed up back in
1996.
We
have since had 98, Me, W2K, XP, and now Vista is coming.  The server 
end
has
seen W2K and 2003 with a service pack.  Should an OS be supported for 
ten years past its inception?

  Will there be a WMF patch for Windows 95 as well?  One way to look 
at things is that Microsoft is an evil empire sticking it to the man.

One might also say they are the average business with new products.

  Regardless of motive, it honestly costs more to maintain NT 4.0 at 
this point than to upgrade to a newer OS.  Red Hat 4.0 also came out
in 1996.
The amount of patching, manual configuration, and manual 
administration involved in a product that has seen its day come and go

is much more expensive than migration.  There is also a fair amount of

default
security,
productivity, and usability gains in the newer versions of these
products.

  You can still run programs dating back to Windows 95 and NT 4.0 and 
even DOS on Windows XP.  That's a lot of overhead Microsoft built in 
to ease transitions.  Skipping one OS version for cost reasons can 
certainly make sense, but if you are making things last and your 
workstations and servers have a five year lifecycle, so should their
operating systems.

  Just for some perspective on 1996:

Dell opened internet sales.

Netgear was founded.

Google was first developed.

Sony entered the PC market.

Microsoft introduced Windows NT 4.0 and Windows CE 1.0.

Sun introduced the Ultra workstation family and licensed Java.

Seagate released the original 10k Cheetah drives at 6GB.

Intel released the 200MHZ P6.  The 266MHz PII didn't come until 1997.

  I do wish you the best of luck in patching NT 4.0 systems if you are
truly
stuck with them, but my recommendation to anyone still on NT is to use
this
as one more reason to present the idea of a new OS to management this
year.

  Sincerely,
    Donald

-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew Schiros [mailto:schiros () gmail com]
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 12:47 PM
To: info () footvision com
Cc: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: WMF Exploit Patch Released

According to Microsoft, WinNT4 and Win2k SP3 users are out of luck.
Their reccomended "solution" is to upgrade your software to a 
supported version.  Obviously, all this means is that they have no 
solution at all, but this is hardly the first time that MS has stuck 
it to WinNT4 users as part of an attempt to get them all moved over to

2k SP4.  As for the viability of disabling the DLL's in question, 
while I haven't had any problems as a result of doing that on the 2k 
boxes in the office, I haven't had the opportunity to test its impact 
on NT systems.  That seems to be the only way of removing the exploit 
from your machines though, and I'd be interested in knowing the 
results of your attempts.


On 1/6/06, info () footvision com <info () footvision com> wrote:


Hello Everyone,

Unfortunately there are company who are still running NT4 and I was 
wondering which alternative do they have

to face this security breach from the fact that Microsoft do not 
provide
any
patch for NT4 .

Do they have to disable GDI32.DLL and WGDI32.DLL as suggested 
previously
for
SHIMGVW.DLL?

Regards.

Ernest Matos

IT Security


-----Original Message-----

From: Matthew Schiros [mailto:schiros () gmail com]

Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2006 10:51 PM

To: security-basics () securityfocus com;
bugtraq () securityfocus com

Subject: WMF Exploit Patch Released



Microsoft has released a patch for the WMF exploit a couple of days

early, apparently due to a faster-than-expected testing process, 
and,

at least I hope, some consumer pressure. It can be downloaded via

Windows Update, or as a standalone install at:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-001.mspx

As a note, it appears that all of the attempts to circumvent the

problem via disabling SHIMGVW.DLL were irrelevant, and that those 
who

discovered that GDI32.DLL and WGDI32.DLL were the culprits were

correct.

Happy crawling.

Matt Schiros

Web Developer

Academic Superstore

www.academicsuperstore.com



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EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE The Norwich

University program offers unparalleled Infosec management education 
and the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience.
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree 
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity
Planning,

Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations.

http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus

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------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE The Norwich
University program offers unparalleled Infosec management education and
the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience. 
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity
Planning, Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations.


http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus
------------------------------------------------------------------------
----



---------------------------------------------------------------------------
EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE
The Norwich University program offers unparalleled Infosec management
education and the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience.
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity Planning,
Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations.

http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus
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