Feeds

MS gets hacked off with bug hunter

Windows Media Player exploit publicised before patch available

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Website security in corporate America

A row has broken out between Microsoft and veteran bug hunter Georgi Guninski after he publicised a vulnerability with Windows Media Player 7 before a software patch was available.

As previously reported, a vulnerability involving the "skins" feature of the application exists which could allow hackers to read files on a victim's PC. According to Guninski, if the bug is properly exploited it could allow an attacker to gain control of a victim's machine.

Microsoft is working on a fix that it said will provide a complete solution to the problem. In the interim it is advising users to change their security zone settings within Internet Explorer (as described below).

Michael Aldridge, a lead product manager in Microsoft's digital media division, told The Register that Guninski had only given the software giant a few days notice and said he acted "irresponsibly" in publicising the flaw.

"The vast majority of security professionals handle vulnerabilities in a way that minimises potential harm to users. Unfortunately, there's a small number who, like Mr. Guninski, handle them irresponsibly and put customers at risk," he said.

"In this case, for instance, he publicised the issue only a few days after reporting it to us. It is simply not possible for any vendor - even Microsoft - to develop a high-quality patch in only a few days - our focus is making sure we deliver a complete patch and that does take time and testing."

Guninski said he notified Microsoft on Thursday, January 11 not January 12 and then published an advisory on Monday. He denies he acted irresponsibly, because a workaround was available, and alleged that Microsoft has not fixed another Internet Explorer bug he notified them about as long ago as last July.

"I totally do not agree with Microsoft's speculations that I am the problem for their buggy software. In my opinion they do not care about the security of their customers as they claim, they care about their image in the press," he said.

Guninski has a penchant for uncovering flaws in Internet Explorer and the row about Windows Media Player is not the first time he has clashed swords with Microsoft. Previous Guninski posting of flaws with Microsoft software on full disclosure security mailing list like BugTraq have attracted criticism from Microsoft over short notice periods, but the latest row signals a new low in the software giant's relationship with the veteran Bulgarian bug hunter. ®

Advice from Microsoft on how users can protect themselves from the Windows Media Player vulnerability:

From the tools menu in IE, choose "Internet Options" then the "Security" tab. Select "Internet Zone". Then click on "Custom Level". Under the "Microsoft VM" option list under java permissions click the "java custom settings" button, and choose to disable "run unsigned content".

Related stories

Guninski finds another IE 5.5 security hole
M$ moves slowly to patch latest IE5.5 hole
Previous Mediaplayer 7 security flaw
Woundup New skins for WMP7, IE6 beta due?
Windows Media Player 7 goes gold, browser wars II to follow

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.