mailing list archives
Re: Re: Security Bug in MSVC
From: bkfsec <bkfsec () sdf lonestar org>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 16:46:45 -0500
Jason Coombs wrote:
Just after Donnie reported this issue to Microsoft (September) we
started seeing Microserfs suggest that their security team was working
on a never-before-encountered novel class of vulnerability, and the
implication was that Microsoft's security competency had finally
surpassed both the black hats and all other white hat groups -- since
it would be politically valuable for Microsoft to be able to claim
that sharing source code is an unsafe behavior, and since there have
been no other vulnerabilities disclosed since that time which might
have appeared to Microsoft to be entirely new and far-reaching, I
suspect that this disclosure prompted those previous statements about
work being done by Microsoft.
How many other attacks can you point to where Microsoft's development
tools are exploited to specifically target the unwary programmer who
still thinks it's perfectly safe to download arbitrary data from an
untrusted source and then open it in a text editor? My guess is that
Donnie got Microsoft thinking about this very risk, and they started
talking internally about it being an entirely new class of
vulnerability. Yes, if my supposition is correct it would be quite
pathetic and give us another reason to laugh at Microsoft; but you can
probably see how much benefit Microsoft is going to be able to milk
out of this and related attacks that exploit bugs in programmers'
tools that are launched by the simple act of opening or attempting to
compile a source code distribution.
Source code is just as dangerous as binary code. Clearly, the only way
to be safe is to rely on Microsoft's programmers to create and
digitally-sign software for us. Go Microsoft. Yeah!
But, I think that what people have been saying (and this is my take on
it, as well) is that it's not a new class of vulnerabilities... it's
executing programs from a script.
I think that the point that source code distributions can be trojaned
(or, perhaps contain bugs that could be unintentionally malicious) is a
very valid point. At the very least new "untrustworthy" code should be
first run in a sandbox.
However, this is not really a revolutionary discovery by any means. Any
language which is designed to run "arbitrary" code by design can be used
to subvert the system. Not to mention that *knowledgable* Free
Software/Open Source proponents won't even try to claim (unless
over-caffeinated/over-excited) that source code distribution is
inherently and automatically more secure. The argument that Free
Software and Open Source methodologies increase security is the peer
review argument -- that if a hole or trojan is introduced, it will
eventually be found by someone who intends to review the code. The same
is, possibly, not always true for proprietary software. Review of
proprietary software won't always reveal answers. Considerable review
of code available projects will always yield answers.
Granted the amount of time it takes for a community member to find the
hole or trojan may be lengthy. The examples in the past have used
sometimes well hidden methods to run the malicious code.
So, in closing, Microsoft never needed this disclosure to show that
source code distribution could contain trojan code -- it's been
happening in the wild for some time now. And Free Software/Open Source
proponents (the knowledgable ones) never claimed that it was a surefire
solution anyway. :) (A lot of relatively gullible individuals,
however, have claimed as much in the past.)
Either way you color it, Free Software/Open Source still has the greater
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Re: Security Bug in MSVC Morning Wood (Jan 20)