Feeds

Researchers unpick Vista kernel protection

From boot kit to 'root kit'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Security researchers have found a way to subvert the load-up procedure for Windows Vista and bypass its code-signing security checks.

Indian researchers Nitin and Vipin Kumar of NV labs have developed a tool called VBoot kit, a custom boot sector loader, which launches from a CD. Once loaded, the tool allows hackers to make system changes on pre-release versions of Vista, something that only Microsoft-signed code is supposed to be able to do.

Vista's booting process fails to check that every previously loaded component is kosher. The Kumar brothers exploited this design "feature" to craft their proof-of-concept code. VBoot kit can copy itself to a section of memory before Vista boots, so bypassing restrictions that should prevent unsigned code running with system (kernel) privileges.

The code, developed on a beta version of Vista, was demonstrated during a presentation at last week's Black Hat conference in Amsterdam.

Heise Security reports that a complex debugging process, involving finding the memory areas vBoot kit needed to load onto, was needed to get the exploit to work. Adapting the code to work on later versions of Vista would involve a similar, time-consuming process.

The attack does not lend itself immediately toward the creation of root kits that work on the final Vista build. Even so, the Kumars' work illustrates fundamental design weaknesses the researchers reckon can only be fully addressed by using TPM (Trusted Platform Module) hardware to stop unsigned program code from being executed. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports
New emphasis on encryption as a weapon?
To Russia With Love: Snowden's pole-dancer girlfriend is living with him in Moscow
While the NSA is tapping your PC, he's tapping ... nevermind
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Put down that shotgun: Wi-Fi's the way to beat Zombies
CreepyDOL sensors can pick walkers from humans with MAC snack attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.