Feeds

Developers cry foul over Windows kernel security

Lock-out

High performance access to file storage

Recently introduced security measures by Microsoft will make it more difficult to integrate third-party security tools with Windows, according to a rival personal firewall firm.

Agnitum reckons that the introduction of Kernel Patch Protection by Microsoft will force independent security software vendors to adopt the same tactics as hackers in order to get their code to work.

Security researchers at Agnitum - best known for its Outpost personal firewall product - reached this conclusion after an analysis of Microsoft's Kernel Patch Protection approach. The technology is designed to limit the exposure of Windows machine to rootkits, which are forms of malware that hide their presence on infected systems, by restricting access to low-level kernel functions.

But Agnitum thinks the approach is susceptible to reverse engineering attacks by skilled hackers, while preventing legitimate software developers from installing software at the kernel level, unless ISVs similarly reverse-engineer access to the OS kernel. Such an approach would make it more difficult to install and maintain independent security products on Windows, Agnitum argues. Hackers, by contrast, have no need to fret about compatibility issues.

"As the vendor of Outpost Firewall Pro, we have to install at the kernel level," said Alexey Belkin, chief software architect at Agnitum. "In addressing the potential problem of not being able to install Outpost on new versions of Windows, we have discovered that it is possible to drill past the new security measures introduced by Microsoft - if we use the same techniques used by hackers."

Kernel Patch Protection protects low-level system activities such as the file and registry operations of the Windows kernel. Program that gains access to the kernel can, for instance, hide a folder on the hard disk and make it impossible to delete that folder using standard tools. The technology is slated for delivery with Windows Vista and 64-bit versions of Windows. Agnitum describes Microsoft's approach as misguided, if not deliberately anti-competitive.

"Microsoft made a logical move with this attempt to protect Windows against rootkits," said Mikhail Penkovsky, vice president of sales and marketing at Agnitum. "Unfortunately, it doesn't really resolve the problem, and also makes it a great deal more difficult for independent security software developers to be fully compatible with Windows."

"Nobody knows if Microsoft has done this intentionally, but we can't avoid the suspicion that this move may have been designed to force users to rely on Microsoft and only Microsoft for Windows security," he added. ®

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
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
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
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
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.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.