Microsoft tool evaluates new software's impact on OS security

Attack Surface Analyzer can identify multiple classes of weaknesses introduced by newly installed programs

Microsoft has released Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0, a free tool that can help system administrators, IT security professionals or software developers understand how newly installed applications can affect the security of a Windows OS.

The tool scans for classes of known security weaknesses that can be introduced by the files, registry keys, services, Microsoft ActiveX controls and other parameters created or changed by new applications.

It can identify executable files, directories, registry keys, or processes with weak access control lists (ACLs). It can also flag processes that don't mark memory regions as non-executable (NX), which could result in the bypassing of the Data Execution Prevention (DEP) Windows security feature. The tool also identifies services with fast restart times that could be attacked to bypass address space layout randomization (ASLR), as well as changes to the Windows Firewall rules or Internet Explorer security policies.

These and many other weaknesses that the tool identifies can facilitate various types of attacks, including some that could allow attackers to gain control of the system, execute malicious code or gain access to sensitive data.

The tool is already being used by internal product groups at Microsoft and a public beta version has been available to download since January 2011. The 1.0 stable version released on Thursday contains significant performance enhancements and bug fixes.

"Through improvements in the code, we were able to reduce the number of false positives and improve Graphic User Interface performance," the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) team said in a blog post. "This release also includes in-depth documentation and guidance to improve ease of use."

The tool has 32-bit and 62-bit versions and supports Windows Vista and newer versions of Microsoft's OS, including Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 that hit the RTM (release to manufacturing) milestone on Tuesday.

Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0 is not compatible with the beta version of the tool, so existing users need to perform new "clean" system and post-application-installation scans -- known as the baseline and product scans respectively.

Attack Surface Analyzer requires .NET Framework 4 or higher present on the system in order to compare and analyze scan results. However, performing the actual scans can be done from the command line interface without .NET Framework.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

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?