Feeds

Free download empowers black hat hackers

Two out of three white hats don't care

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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." ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.