Feeds

MS downplays SP2 vuln risk

NX protection concern

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Microsoft is downplaying the significance of research that suggests support for revamped memory protection in Win XP SP2 will fail to block a common type of security attack. Alexander Anisimov of Russian security firm Positive Technologies last week published a paper explaining how the data execution protection (DEP) and heap overflow protection features that debuted in Windows XP SP2 can be bypassed.

This execution protection (NX) technology - which is only supported by a limited number of processors including AMD K8, Intel Itanium and some Xeon processors - is designed to thwart buffer overrun attacks. Buffer overflows are a perennial source of software security problems that often feature in Windows security exploits. The infamous Sasser worm, for example, used a buffer overflow flaw in Windows' Local Security Authority Subsystem Service to spread.

Microsoft's NX protection is designed to make it more difficult for crackers to inject malicious code into memory but Positive Technologies' MaxPatrol security scanner research team found a chink in these defences, outlined in Anisimov's paper.

Positive Technologies said it discovered the problem in October 2004, notified Microsoft in December and went public last week. In a statement, Microsoft said that "early analysis" indicates that attempts to bypass its newly-introduced memory protection technology are "not a security vulnerability". It said it never claimed the technology was foolproof.

"An attacker cannot use this method by itself to attempt to run malicious code on a user’s system. There is no attack that utilizes this, and customers are not at risk from the situation," it said.

"It’s important to note that DEP and heap overflow protection are not designed to protect against all kinds of malicious code exploits. These features effectively address the exploits that they were designed to prevent and make it more difficult for an attacker to run malicious software on the computer as the result of a buffer overrun. We will continue to modify these technologies as appropriate to improve them and will evaluate ways to mitigate against this method of bypass while retaining performance on the system, either through an update as part of our monthly bulletin release process, or in a service pack," it adds.

Microsoft continues to urge customers to load Windows XP Service Pack 2 as a defence against security attacks. ®

Related stories

MS bigs up Windows XP SP2
Intel 'Nocona' Xeon to get 'no execute' support
WinXP SP2 = security placebo?
Exploit code attacks unpatched IE bug

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.