Feeds

Vista kernel fix 'worse than useless'

MS irks security researcher (part 411)

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft has modified Windows Vista to prevent a high-profile exploit demonstrated at security conferences this summer but the fix creates as many problems as it solves, according to the security researcher who identified the original problem.

The bug, demonstrated by Joanna Rutkowska of security firm Coseinc, created a possible mechanism for hackers to bypass security protection built into 64-bit versions of Vista in order to inject potentially hostile code into the kernel of prototype versions of Windows. This so-called "pagefile attack" defeated a feature called Vista kernel protection.

Windows Vista Release Candidate 2 frustrates this attack by blocking write-access to raw disk sectors for user mode applications, even if they are executed with elevated administrative rights. Rutkowska writes that Microsoft's fix is fraught with difficulties because it prevents legitimate applications, such as disk editors and recovery tools, from functioning without their own signed kernel-level driver. Hackers might be able to hijack such legitimate drivers so all Microsoft has done has created extra work for developers in displacing - but not resolving - the problem.

During a presentation at the Black Hat conference in August, Rutkowska explained two other approaches Microsoft might take in defeating the page-file attack as well as highlighting the problems with simply blocking write-access to raw disk sectors for user mode applications. "Microsoft actually decided to ignore those suggestions and implemented the easiest solution, ignoring the fact that it really doesn’t solve the problem," she writes. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?