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RE: Microsot DID DISCLOSE potential Backdoor
From: Ken Schaefer <Ken () adOpenStatic com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 21:43:41 +1000

I'm not sure the facts in evidence support the conclusions reached here (sorry, not posting inline as I don't want to 
address each conclusion built upon some other shaky conclusion.

From http://support.microsoft.com/kb/890830

Reporting component
The Malicious Software Removal Tool sends information to Microsoft if it detects malicious software or finds an error. 
The specific information that is sent to Microsoft consists of the following items: * The name of the malicious 
software that is detected
* The result of malicious software removal
* The operating system version
* The operating system locale
* The processor architecture
* The version number of the tool
* An indicator that notes whether the tool is being run by Microsoft Update, Windows Update, Automatic Updates, the 
Download Center, or from the Web site
* An anonymous GUID
* A cryptographic one-way hash (MD5) of the path and file name of each malicious software file that is removed from the 
If apparently malicious software is found on the computer, the tool prompts you to send information to Microsoft beyond 
what is listed here. You are prompted in each of these instances, and this information is sent only with your consent. 
The additional information includes the following: * The files that are suspected to be malicious software. The tool 
will identify the files for you.
* A cryptographic one-way hash (MD5) of any suspicious files that are detected.
You can disable the reporting feature. For information about how to disable the reporting component and how to prevent 
this tool from sending information to Microsoft, click the following article umber to view the article in the Microsoft 
Knowledge Base:

891716 (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/891716/) Deployment of the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool in 
an enterprise environment

Either I am missing the point of J. Oquendo's post, or the conclusions I think he reaches are speculation rather that 


-----Original Message-----
From: J. Oquendo [mailto:sil () infiltrated net]
Sent: Sunday, 4 May 2008 1:46 PM
To: bugtraq () securityfocus com; full-disclosure () lists grok org uk
Subject: Microsot DID DISCLOSE potential Backdoor

While you were sleeping and focusing on COFEE...

Microsoft Discloses Government Backdoor on Windows Operating Systems
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 @ 6:00 am | Privacy, News

Microsoft may have inadvertently disclosed a potential Microsoft
backdoor for law
enforcement earlier this week. To explain this all, here is the layman
term of a backdoor
from Wikipedia:

A backdoor in a computer system (or cryptosystem or algorithm) is a
method of
bypassing normal authentication, securing remote access to a computer,
obtaining access
to plaintext, and so on, while attempting to remain undetected. The
backdoor may take
the form of an installed program (e.g., Back Orifice), or could be a
modification to an
existing program or hardware device.

According to an article on PC World: "The software vendor is giving law
access to a special tool that keeps tabs on botnets, using data
compiled from the 450
million computer users who have installed the Malicious Software
Removal tool that
ships with Windows."

Not a big deal until you keep reading: "Although Microsoft is reluctant
to give out details
on its botnet buster - the company said that even revealing its name
could give cyber
criminals a clue on how to thwart it"

Stop the press for second or two and look at this logically: "users who
have installed the
Malicious Software Removal tool" followed by " Microsoft is reluctant
to give out details
on its botnet buster - the company said that even revealing its name
could give cyber
criminals a clue on how to thwart it", what? This is perhaps the
biggest gaffe I've read
thus far on potential government collusion with Microsoft.

We then have the following wording: "Microsoft had not previously
talked about its
botnet tool, but it turns out that it was used by police in Canada to
make a high-profile
bust earlier this year." So again, thinking logically at what has been
said so far by
Microsoft; "We have a tool called Malicious Software Removal tool...",
"we can't tell
you the name of this tool since it would undermine our snooping...",
"it's been used by
law enforcement already to make a high-profile bust earlier this year."

Remember a "Malicious Software Reporting Tool" is a lot different from
a "Malicious
Software Removal Tool". Understanding networking, computing, botnets,
let's put this
concept into a working model to explain how this is nothing more than a
backdoor. You
have an end user, we'll create a random Windows XP user: Farmer John in
North Dakota.
Farmer John in North Dakota uses his machine once a week to read news,
send family
email, nothing more. He installed Microsoft's Malicious Removal Tool.
Farmer John's
machine becomes infected at some point and sends Microsoft information
about the
compromise: "I'm Farmer John's machine coming from X_IP_Address".

A correlation is done with this information and then supposedly used to
track where the
botnet's originating IP address is from. From the article: "Analysis by
software allowed investigators to identify which IP address was being
used to operate the
botnet, Gaudreau said. And that cracked the case." This is not
difficult, detect a DST
(destination) for malware sent from Farmer John's machine. Simple, good
guys win,
everyone is happy.

The concept of Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal tool not being a
backdoor is
flawed. For starters, no information is ever disclosed to someone
installing the Windows
Malicious Software removal tool: "Windows will now install a program
which will report
suspicious activity to Microsoft". As far as I can recall on any
Windows update, there has
never been any mention of it.

"But this is a wonderful tool, why are you being such a troll and
knocking Microsoft for
doing the right thing!". The question slash qualm I have about this
tool is I'd like to know
what, why, when and how things are being done on my machine. It's not a
matter of
condemning Microsoft, but what happens if at some point in time
Microsoft along with
government get an insane idea to branch away from obtaining other data
for whatever
intents and purposes?

We've seen how the NSA is allowed to gather any kind of information
they'd like (http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying),
we now have to contend with Microsoft attempting to do the same. Any
way you'd like to
market this, it reeks of a backdoor: (again pointing to the definition)
A backdoor in a
computer system ... is a method of bypassing normal authentication, ...
obtaining access
to ... , and so on, while attempting to remain undetected. There's no
beating around the
bush here on what this tool is and does.

This is reminiscent of the 90's with the NSA's ECHELON program. In
1994, the NSA
intercepted the faxes and telephone calls of Airbus. What resulted was
the information
was then forwarded to Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas in which they
snagged the
contract from under Airbus' feet. In 1996, the CIA hacked into the
computers of the
Japanese Trade Ministry seeking "negotiations on import quotas for US
cars on the
Japanese market". Resulting with the information being passed off to
"US negotiator
Mickey Kantor" who accepted a lower offer.

As an American you might say "so what, more power to us" but to think
that any
government wouldn't do it to its own citizens for whatever reason would
be absurd.
There are a lot of horrible routes this could take.

What happens if slash when for some reason or another the government
decides that you
should not read a news site, will Microsoft willingly oblige and
rewrite the news in
accordance to what the government deems readable?

How about the potential to give Microsoft a warrantless order to
discover who doesn't
like a President's "health care plan", or who is irrate and whatever
policy; Will Microsoft
sift through a machine to retrieve relevant data to disclose to

That doesn't include the potential for say technological espionage and
gouging of sorts.
What's to stop Microsoft from say, mapping a network and reporting all
based products back to Microsoft. The information could then be used to
say raise
support costs, allow Microsoft to offer juicier incentives to rid the
network of non MS
based products, the scenarios are endless.

Sadly, most people will shrug and pass it off as nothing. Most security
buffs, experts, etc.,
haven't mentioned a word of it outside of "the wonderful method to
remove, detect,
botnets!" and I don't necessarily disagree it's a unique way to detect
what is happening,
but this could have been done at the ISP and NSP level without
installing a backdoor.
Why didn't law enforcement approach botnets from that avenue? Perhaps
they have, this
I'm actually certain of which leads me to believe this is a prelude of
something more
secretive that has yet to be disclosed or discovered.

http://cryptome.org/echelon-ep-fin.htm (ECHELON MISHAPS)

More on Microsoft's *Potential* Government Backdoor
Thursday, May 1st, 2008 @ 7:21 am | Privacy, News

After reading through Microsoft's comments repeatedly yesterday, I
cannot come to the
conclusion that Microsoft's "Malware Removal Tool" is not some form of
Their comments in the initial article are extremely disturbing and
anyone using a
Microsoft product should now be extremely weary about downloading new
updates if
even deciding to continue using Microsoft at all.

So let's take a look at the top botnets. Srizbi, Bobax, Rustock,
Cutwail, Ozdok, Nucrypt,
Wopla, Spamthru, Storm, Grum, Onewordsub; These are the top as reported
by Secure
Guess what, eight out of eleven are all encrypted. Not that big of a
deal until you decipher
what Microsoft stated in their original quotes in correlation to some

From the article: Microsoft security experts analyze samples of
malicious code to capture
a snapshot of what is happening on the botnet network, which can then
be used by law
enforcers, Cranton said. "They can actually get into the software code
and say, .Here's
information on how it's being controlled.'"

Perhaps Microsoft could clarify how exactly are they doing what they
do, more
importantly, what information is being sent over the wire and to whom.
Are they now
breaking code as well. Did the botnet authors go through the steps of
encrypting code. We
know for a fact that traffic being sent from a compromised host to a
controller is
encrypted, so what is Microsoft analyzing. What COULDN'T Microsoft have
from getting code for analysis say by working along with Symantec or
someone else.

Now before you shoot off an answer like "the code doofus, they're
analyzing the code!",
think about it again. If they're in it to analyze solely the code, they
could have worked
with AntiVirus vendors for samples as opposed to putting a tool on your
machine which
collects YOUR DATA and sends it off to who knows where. A law
enforcement agency,
or team Microsoft.

I'll pause on this for now. How about the validity in stating: "Botnet
Operator tracked via
IP". How legitimate is this argument given the fact (not presumption)
that IP is a horrible
identifier. Let's put this in a practical example. Farmer Joe in
Nebraska is using a DSL
connection that it always on. He uses Windows XP and doesn't know what
a Windows
Update is so he's never used it. His computer is compromised, a botnet
controller is
installed and attacks are launched from Nebraska. The attacker
sanitized Farmer Joe's
machine to erase his tracks using multiple wipes with perhaps PGP. The

For any business or law enforcement agency to claim they can track down
via an IP
address, perhaps they've skimmed on the fact that there are far too
many open WiFi
hotspots in the world to conclusively narrow a fact. We have an
assumption that an
attacker is behind Can we see them? No. All we know is
the address. Being
I've used a private address, I won't bother diving into "but he came
from ISP X in
Nebraska." Irrelevant. What you have is a fishing expedition.

For more on this false sense of ID-via-IP: Well, let me ask you you
is. I'll give you a hint; at this instant, there are 72 of us.

Here's another question. Whom would you suspect is? At
this point in
time, I am in Barcelona; if I were home, that would be my address as
you would see it,
but my address as I would see it would be in There
might be several
hundred people you would see using;

I implore you to read a NANOG thread
Professionals know, IP is an inaccurate identifier so why does it seem
that  Microsoft
along with LEO are relying on this. Makes a great baseline sure, but is
certainly ripe
for abuse

Again, please understand what I am stating, this is "not to say that
its a horrible idea", its
a start, a baseline - but not a definitive measure of determining who
is controlling a bot,
who created the botnet, etc.

Looking at past history, unfortunately you have the tinkerers; so what
happens to an up-
and-coming "security" buff who is getting into the field and stumbles
upon a botnet. Sure
he was moronic to join an irc channel filled with bots, sure he was
idiotic in downloading
the code for the sake of learning. Fact is he might have. Guess what
will happen to him
when a Law Enforcement Agency raids his house? Guess what will happen
when that
agency needs funding for a new uber Cyber(buzzword)Crime fighting
department. You
guessed it. Hey "Up-and-coming security buff..." Kiss your terminal
goodbye, and from
here on out, your dreams of becoming the next Bruce Schneier will be
close to non-
existent. It happens.

Anyhow, re-emphasizing... Shame on Microsoft for forwarding your data
without telling
you. Shame on Microsoft for not asking you if you wanted to
sending data. Shame on Microsoft for not explicitly stating: The data
we are sneaking off
your computer will be sent to government agencies of our choice. Its a
horrible practice
and a damaging breach of trust. Their action worries me as a security
professional, will
they ever scour for data for profit. Why not, no one would notice or
care anyway.

J. Oquendo
sil @ infiltrated dot net

J. Oquendo
SGFA #579 (FW+VPN v4.1)
SGFE #574 (FW+VPN v4.1)

wget -qO - www.infiltrated.net/sig|perl


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