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6 Month Vista Vuln Report, Debunked
From: "Kristian Hermansen" <kristian.hermansen () gmail com>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 09:09:31 -0400

This report from Microsoft's  Jeff R. Jones is ludicrous:

http://www.csoonline.com/pdf/6_Month_Vista_Vuln_Report.pdf

The Microsoft "researcher" claims that Windows Vista is exponentially
less vulnerable than many Linux distributions and Mac OS X.  It may be
true that the default Vista installation has had less public
vulnerability reports, and that Linux has had many more, but this is
due to the nature of Open Source.  Jeff does not include any "silently
fixed" vulnerabilities that have been patched since Vista was released
and Microsoft has not disclosed such vulnerabilities publicly.

Here is a per section debunking of his paper broken down by topic,
because I feel Jeff really needs to perform another less exaggerated
analysis.

"Window Vista - The First 6 Months"

Let's remember that Vista was released to business partners earlier
than home users.  He does not account for this gap, and thus, this
could soften the exposure of the official Vista code to many
researchers for analysis.

"Teredo"

Teredo is also a major hole, and they are leaving it wide open.  The
community feels this is a flaw, but Microsoft doesn't seem to care.
Also, the entire networking stack was rewritten for Vista, and that
means lots of new bugs are present.  I have already spoken to other
researchers who have not disclosed such flaws publicly.  However, a
good start for learning about some is the Symantec paper that analyzed
Vista during the BETA phases and revealed numerous issues.

"Windows XP"

Windows XP, touted as the most secure OS to date on release.  Also,
touted as secure in SP1, and again most secure in SP2.  We are now
seeing it again with Vista.  Are we really supposed to believe that
somehow this mantra is going to change just because Microsoft tells us
so?  In defense of Microsoft, however, they have focused their efforts
to really clean things up, and that is commendable.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Workstation"

OK.  The claims here are just plain insulting.  The 100+
vulnerabilities include such software as PostgreSQL, MySQL, mailman,
squid, and emacs.  None of this software is installed in a default
installation of RHEL4.  I think the guy clicked on "Install
Everything" and went to town with vulnerability reports :-)

"RHEL4 Reduced Component List"

This analysis more closely assimilates with Vista, but is still
bloated in that many of the vulnerabilities he reports are very small
bugs in Firefox, which don't result in a compromise of the host.
Again, the nature of bug reporting in open versus closed source
software.

"Ubuntu"

Again, the nature of open versus closed source bug reporting.
However, even the kernel flaws reported are only relevant when such
modules are loaded in the system and that surface is exposed.  Again,
the results are inflated, even in the "reduced" set.

"Novell"

More of the same.  The vulnerabilities are shared between all the
distros of course!

"Mac OS X"

Even though OS X claims to be secure, researchers have obviously shown
that Apple will have flaws too.  This is nature of software, and it
affects all code.  However, the paper claims that things like the
vulnerability below are relevant...

<snip>
A bug in AFP Server when using an ACL-enabled storage volume may in
certain situations result in an ACL remaining attached when a file
with POSIX-only permissions is copied.
</snip>

"Putting It All Together"

* insert nice graphs here *

The conclusions that are drawn are built on a lack of understanding by
the Microsoft researcher.  I highly encourage him to go back and take
another look, and pare down the results to essential information that
is absolutely critical to the conclusions, rather than just "Other
OS's have more bugs, see, look at my graphs"...
-- 
Kristian Hermansen

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