Feeds

Free download empowers black hat hackers

Two out of three white hats don't care

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The folks at Immunity, a company specializing in tools for penetration testing, have released a free application advertised to streamline the development of software exploits.

Immunity Debugger, as the app is called, will cut exploit development time by half, according to this product announcement. The debugger is designed with malware writers in mind, providing a rich GUI, powerful scripting language and connectivity to fuzzers and exploit development tools.

The program gives developers the option of using command line or GUI depending on the task at hand, and runs plug-ins written in Python by third-party developers.

It has also touched off a familiar debate about whether what is good for the goose will be good for the gander, which in security circles often translates to "does that which helps bad guys also help the good guys (or vice versa)?"

"Giving people a tool that makes the creation of malicious code easier is just not a good thing," Dave Marcus, a security research and communications manager at McAfee argues. "This tool in the wrong hands is going to create more zero days, more exploits and more code that ultimately puts people at risk, and I know that's not the intent."

We see some merit in the argument. A vulnerability is found in a widely used application, and a bad guy uses Immunity Debugger to write an exploit, shaving 50 percent of the time it would previously have taken to do so. That allows the black hat to release the attack code several days before the vendor issues a fix.

But so far we're not hearing other security white hats echoing the criticism. On Sunday, SANS Diary writer Scott Fendley appeared to praise Debugger because "it seems to take the best of command line interfaces as well as the GUI ones and combined it into one package."

And John Bambenek, a security researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also welcomed the release.

"If this tool does what it says ... software development companies, researchers and white-hats guys will be running these tools also and finding these exploits just as fast as the bad guys," he said. "Less sophisticated hackers will be able to get more into the exploit writing market, but I'm less worried about the people who need GPL debuggers to figure out how to hack stuff." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.