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Re: Perhaps it's time to regulate Microsoft as Critical Infrastructure?
From: Rohit Patnaik <quanticle () gmail com>
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 12:53:03 -0600

The problem with regulating Microsoft as critical infrastructure is that it
simply entrenches the existing monoculture and all the problems that it
entails.  To really improve our position regarding security, the government
ought to encourage greater diversity and openness in the OS market.  Placing
operating systems under formal regulation would have the opposite effect.
It would increase the barriers to entry, discouraging diversity.  In effect,
this proposal will formalize Windows as the official OS of the federal

Second, unless the government extends its regulation to cover all consumers,
there will be little to no improvement in security.  The vast majority of
exploited bugs are not 0-day vulnerabilities.  They are bugs that have been
discovered and patched.  The problem is that the consumer has not applied
the patch.  If the government really wanted to improve computer security,
they'd mandate that citizens keep up with patches to their operating system
and applications.  Such a mandate would have a far greater immediate impact
than any regulation of Microsoft or any other OS vendor.

-- Rohit Patnaik

On Sat, Jan 23, 2010 at 12:57 AM, Gadi Evron <ge () linuxbox org> wrote:

[I have given this some thought, edited my argument, and am moving this
message to its own thread.]

Microsoft has put a lot into securing its code, and is very good at
doing so. However, is it doing enough?

My main argument is about the policy of handling vulnerabilities for 6
months without patching (such as the Google attacks 0day apparently was)
and the policy of waiting a whole month before patching this very same
vulnerability when it first became an in-the-wild 0day exploit (it has
now been patched, ahead of schedule).

Microsoft is the main proponent of responsible disclosure, and has shown
it is a responsible vendor. Also, patching vulnerabilities is far from
easy, and Microsoft has done a tremendous job at getting it done. I
simply call on it to stay responsible and amend its faulty and dangerous
policies. A whole month as the default response to patching a 0day? Really?

With their practical monopoly, and the resulting monoculture, perhaps
their policies ought to be examined for regulation as critical
infrastructure, if they can't bring themselves to be more responsible on
their own.

This is the first time in a long while that I find it fit to criticize
Microsoft on security. Perhaps they have grown complacent with the PR
nightmare of full disclosure a decade behind them, with most
vulnerabilities now "sold" to them directly or indirectly by the
security industry.


Gadi Evron,
ge () linuxbox org 

Blog: http://gevron.livejournal.com/

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Charter: http://lists.grok.org.uk/full-disclosure-charter.html
Hosted and sponsored by Secunia - http://secunia.com/

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