Security researchers look beyond Vista

Vista security much better than previous Windows OS versions

Improved security in Microsoft's newest software products may leave some security researchers looking elsewhere for work.

That was the message that some security professionals took away from BlueHat, an event on Microsoft's campus that allows security researchers to mingle with Microsoft developers.

"One of the messages we got was to look in the future for our products to not be so successful," said Pedram Amini, manager of security research at 3Com's Tipping Point division. That's because Microsoft is applying a lot of the technologies used by security researchers in-house, making third-party techniques not as effective, he said.

For example, he said that Microsoft Office has been susceptible to fault by fuzzing, an automated technique for finding software faults when access to the code isn't available. But Microsoft has recently put more effort into using fuzzing itself, so now third-party fuzzing technologies are unlikely to be as necessary for Office 2007.

One well-known researcher who goes by the name Halvar Flake called Vista arguably the most secure closed-source OS available on the market. "As a result I think that most of the security researchers will move on to greener pastures for a while. Why try to chase a difficult overflow out of Vista when you have Acrobat Reader installed, some antivirus software with shoddy file parsing and the latest iTunes?"

But the security researchers don't expect to have time on their hands just because Vista and Office 2007 are more secure than their predecessors. "It's not like our industry is done now," said Dan Kaminksy, director of penetration testing services for IOActive. He pointed to weaknesses in Web-based services and technologies like virtualisation.

Others agreed. "There's always something that can be improved on," Amini said. Some researcher will come up with a new approach to bug hunting or they'll focus on different technologies, he said.

While the advent of the first BlueHat event in 2005 marked a shift at Microsoft to become more open to the security research community, this BlueHat, only the second since the release of Vista, reflected another shift, Kaminsky said.

He has seen a change in Microsoft toward considering security as an engineering problem. "If you look at security as an engineering problem, then the message from the security researchers stops being 'you bad horrible people, you write bad code' and starts becoming 'here are changes in the engineering landscape that you need to be aware of'," he said.

That attitude change was apparent at the conference, he said. At some earlier BlueHats, there was some antagonism among the researchers and Microsoft employees. Kaminsky remembers a presentation at the first event that took Microsoft to task for learning about certain bugs in one piece of software and failing to prevent the same bugs in different applications. He didn't see those types of presentations this time.

Neither did Amini. "Everyone appreciated what everyone else is doing," he said.

BlueHat typically happens twice a year and Microsoft does not allow members of the press to attend.

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.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?