Microsoft guru wants Vista bugs rated less serious

Microsoft Security Response Center is being too conservative in its Vista vulnerability rating plans

Microsoft's own bug hunters should cut Windows Vista some slack and rate its vulnerabilities differently because of the operating system's new, baked-in defenses, according to the developer who is often the public persona of the company's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) process.

Michael Howard, a senior security program manager in Microsoft's security engineering group, said that the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) is being too conservative in its Vista vulnerability rating plans. Because Vista includes security techniques and technologies that Windows XP lacks, the MSRC should reconsider how it ranks Vista when a vulnerability affects both Microsoft's new operating system and its predecessor, Windows XP, he said.

"The MSRC folks are, understandably, very conservative and would rather err on the side of people deploying updates rather than trying to downgrade bug severity," said Howard on his personal blog last week. "Don't be surprised if you see a bug that's, say, Important on Windows XP and Important on Windows Vista, even if Windows Vista has a few more defenses and mitigations in place."

The operating system, released to consumers in late January, includes a number of new security features that randomize memory, check code for buffer overflows and require user permission for potentially risky operations.

Not surprisingly, the MSRC rejects Howard's argument. "Windows Vista will not be treated any differently, and severity ratings for any issues will be based on vulnerability traits and merits, along with technical mitigating factors," an MSRC spokesperson said. "This process is the same for all Microsoft products."

Although the MSRC's security bulletins may qualify a bug's severity in some specific environments, its rating system is clear-cut. If an Internet worm can spread without user action -- the MSRC's definition of "critical" -- on Vista, the vulnerability will be so tagged, Vista-specific security technologies notwithstanding.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?