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Why Unpatched got unplugged

IE vulns page 'outlived its usefulness'

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PivX Solutions has explained the rationale behind its decision to pull a Web page that documented unresolved vulnerabilities with IE.

The page (available at time of writing via Google cache)documented 31 unpatched vulnerabilities involving Internet Explorer, but was pulled last Friday.

After Microsoft released a new patch (MS03-040) which renders several IE vulns obsolete, PivX became convinced of "a sea change in Microsoft’s commitment to rid its IE browser of the vulns".

Taking "Microsoft’s recent positive actions" together with the current rise in attacks against IE into account, PIvX decided to pull the page, after deciding it was doing more harm than good.

"As the ubiquitous browser that is utilized to access the Internet, we all depend on IE too much to have crooks, social deviants, malcontents and crackers messing with our lifestyles and our livelihoods," PivX said in a statement explaining it decision.

Which, to say the least, is something of a turnaround given how critical PivX has been in the past to air Microsoft's dirty laundry.

Rob Shively, PivX chief executive, said the unpatched page has outlived its purpose, but PivX remains committed to security research.

"For our part we have not abandoned our research, in fact, we have increased it substantially with the addition of several new full time researchers. Our commitment to disclosure is as strong as ever too. However, we are committed to responsible disclosure in this instance," Shively told The Reg.

"We received quite an awakening when we first took the page down last Friday. Among the several thousand people that emailed us there was a vocal minority who were very nasty in their posts. That only strengthened my resolve. If we can keep one cracker from getting the early jump on developing an exploit to a vulnerability that we posted on ‘Unpatched’ then this new approach will be deemed a success, irrespective of what Microsoft does."

So if outstanding vulnerabilities PivX previously publicised are not fixed within (say) 90 days would it re-instigate the page or is it gone for good, we asked.

Shively told us the company is developing a tool which "should be released in a week's time" that will enable users to be protected from the vulnerabilities that we find and which are or remain unpatched.

PivX is also considering the production of a periodic newsletter to share its research with select members of the Net community.

"We are not leaving the 10,000-20,000 system admins who have come to rely on the information contained on ‘Unpatched’ in the dark," Shively added. ®

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