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MS releases IIS ‘lockdown’ utility

Are they getting serious or something?

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Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Microsoft has released its latest security-oriented utility, this time addressing the many vulnerabilities in Internet Information Server (IIS) with its free 'IIS Lockdown Tool'.

The purpose here is not to patch systems like the HFNetChk hotfix checker, but to configure IIS for improved security independent of patching.

The IIS utility will automatically remove script mappings, sample Web files, the scripts virtual directory, and the MSADC virtual directory. It disables active server pages (asp), the index server Web interface (ida), server-side includes, Internet printing, and distributed authoring and versioning (WebDAV). It also sets file permissions to prevent the anonymous user account from writing to Web content directories or executing system utilities.

A point and drool mode chooses all the modifications for the user, and a custom mode lets one choose which to implement. An undo function permits users to undo the most recent configuration. The tool also creates a log file named oblt-log.log to assist in troubleshooting.

There's been a bit of a stir at NTBugtraq because the tool doesn't disable SMTP and FTP services, which would clearly be good for users who may be running them without realizing it, though it's fair to note that the utility claims only to configure IIS for improved security and doesn't claim to be a comprehensive solution to on-line threats.

The tool looks like a promising prototype for some sort of 'Security Wizard' which could be integrated into any number of MS products and updated periodically by the user. We wish the company had been security conscious enough to have offered something along those lines from the beginning of the Windows Epoch, rather than wait until the mounting pressure of weekly vulnerability embarrassments finally became too much to bear.

Still, it's a positive trend, and better late than never we'll allow. ®

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