If you say it often enough, people will believe it
We have developed a habit of keeping track of analysts who are obviously paid or compensated for serving corporate agenda (e.g. [1, 2, 3]). This is very relevant in light of the recent OOXML propaganda that came from IDC and the Burton Group.
Here is another fine example from the news. We wish to debunk the said analysts using compelling evidence and fact. One of the predications which certain people made is this:
5. Windows Vista will be secure
Analysts were: Wrong
When Windows Vista was launched, Microsoft platforms group vice president, Jim Allchin, described a platform where its “safety and security” will be the “overriding features” for which most people will want Windows Vista.
Analysts from Gartner and the Enderle Group further touted Vista’s security features, highlighting in particular its spyware-fighting prowess.
Enderle and Gartner have been caught many times before. The former is a one-man, attention-seeking ‘consultancy’ whose major client is Microsoft. The latter, Gartner, is funded by Bill Gates and plenty of its revenue stream comes from work it does for Microsoft. Jim Allchin, by the way, escaped Microsoft as soon as Windows Vista was released. It truly make you wonder, does it not?
The people above claimed that Vista will be secure, but let us take a look at some headlines which cover separate incidents that occurred in the past year (sorted reverse chronologically for the most part).
The latest round of patches revealed that Vista could be hijacked by merely sending a packet to it.
Microsoft’s first set of security bulletins for 2008 may be slim, but will include a fix for a critical vulnerability in XP and Vista.
More information about this incident can be found here.
One of the updates is considered critical for Windows Vista and XP users because the flaw it fixes could be used by attackers to install unauthorized software on a victim’s computer.
As we showed before, especially when Microsoft’s Jeff Jones was lying to the public, Microsoft redefines and reinvents the science of security in attempt to show that Windows is more secure. Seconia was accused of playing similar games just days ago. Here is what needs to be pointed out:
For Microsoft this makes sense because these fixes get the benefit of a full test pass which is much more robust for a service pack or major release than it is for a security update.
This is the first time I’ve seen Microsoft prominently admit to silently fixing vulnerabilities in its bulletins — a controversial practice that effectively reduces the number of publicly documented bug fixes (for those keeping count) and affects patch management/deployment decisions.
Forget for a moment whether Microsoft is throwing off patch counts that Microsoft brass use to compare its security record with those of its competitors. What do you think of Redmond’s silent patching practice?
Sorry, but Microsoft’s self-evaluating security counting isn’t really a good accounting.
The point: Don’t count on security flaw counting. The real flaw is the counting.
Getting back to Vista, let us look at some of the flaws we have seen:
Microsoft on Tuesday released its December 2007 security bulletin, which includes seven updates: three are designated as critical by the software giant and four are deemed important.
A Trio of Critical Patches
First up is a remote code execution patch for DirectX versions 7.0 (Windows 2000) through 10.0 (Windows Vista).
Microsoft, although late, but did acknowledge that it is a flaw even in the latest OS (Vista) which should have been fixed long back.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I refreshed one of my Windows Vista test machines. Oh my, there were so many Windows Updates.
Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system will face increasing security threats, according to McAfee Avert Labs predictions for top 10 security threats in 2008.
The updates affect many versions of Windows, Server and Office software — including Windows XP and Windows Vista — and are meant to prevent hackers from breaking into Web surfers’ computers using specially crafted Web pages.
7. Buffer the Overflow Slayer v. the ActiveX Files [Vista included]
The vulnerability was discovered by Krystian Kloskowski and is rated “highly critical” in this posting on Secunia. It’s also discussed here on the US-Cert website. Proof-of-concept code can be found on MilW0rm here.
At least one of the critical vulnerabilities involves Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista, both of which were conceived under new and highly vaunted development rigors designed to produce more secure products.
Of the four criticals, two will include high-severity patches for Windows Vista. The bulletin rated ?moderate? only affects Vista.
Four of this month’s bulletins are labelled ‘critical’ and relate to vulnerabilities that may allow remote code execution.
Microsoft has just patched another critical hole in Vista that it knew about as long ago as last Christmas. The delay was similar to its lag in patching the serious (and heavily targeted) animated-cursor flaw I told you about last month.
Microsoft today released an update for the recently popular ‘animated cursor’ vulnerability. The update was originally scheduled for April 10th, but due to recent exploits, was rushed out today. The update wasn’t just for this one vulnerability though, in Vista, it addressed two others, and in all covered seven vulnerabilities in Vista, XP and 2000.
This poor implementation of the permissions structure can be exploited by malware to make files that are undetectable to Anti-Virus products.
14. More Windows cursor patch trouble [Vista included again]
A new issue with the fix has also come up. Some customers have experienced trouble when printing from SQL Reporting Services to a Printer Command Language (PCL) printer, Microsoft said.
Installing Microsoft’s Tuesday patch for a “critical” Windows vulnerability is causing trouble for some users.
For the second time this month, Microsoft has shipped a security bulletin with patches for a “critical” Vista vulnerability that puts millions of users at risk of code execution attacks.
Security researchers say the Windows .ANI bug that has been plaguing users for the past week first surfaced — and was patched — in early 2005.
The software giant broke with its monthly patch cycle to fix a bug that cybercrooks had been using since last week to attack Windows PCs, including those running Vista.
Asus.com.tw, the website of Taiwanese motherboard maker Asustek, has been spraying visitors with the .ANI virus, security software makers confirmed today.
I would suspect that one will be a patch for the Windows MessageBox exploit, so Vista should get it. Might another be for the Vista ‘Timer/2099 Crack’? I wouldn’t consider it critical, but Microsoft probably does.
Security experts have confirmed that a proof of concept code for an unpatched vulnerability in Windows Vista has been released on the internet.
There were warning signs in advance. Windows Vista was not made to have a considerable impact, security-wise, but hype was a key driver. It happens to be the same case with DirectX 10, whose hype was generated by faking images which create a false perception that it is a big jump compared to DirectX 9 (that is another shocking story about deception, but it’s worth a separate post). Here are some more articles of interest:
Well, allow me to take a moment to remind everyone of something that you might not remember – XP was also touted as being ultra secure. Seriously, can anyone honestly look themselves in the mirror and say this is the gospel truth? You have got to be kidding me. Similar to XP, Microsoft promises to have the most secure Windows version to date yet again.
“Parts of Vista scare me,” Gleichauf said at the Gartner Security Summit here on Monday. “Anything with that level of systems complexity will have new threats, as well as bringing new solutions. It’s always a struggle in security, trying to build for what you don’t know.”
Researchers with Symantec’s advanced threat team poked through Vista’s new network stack in several recent builds of the still-under-construction operating system, and found several bugs — some of which have been fixed, including a few in Monday’s release — as well as broader evidence that the rewrite of the networking code could easily lead to problems.
Among Newsham’s and Hoagland’s conclusions: “The amount of new code present in Windows Vista provides many opportunities for new defects.”
“It’s true that some of the things we found were ‘low-hanging fruit,’ and that some are getting fixed in later builds,” said Friedrichs. “But that begs the question of what else is in there?”
With so many incidents out there, there remains this Big Lie that Vista is secure. Paid analysts do not help here. █