Feeds

Google geek slammed over XP exploit

Impatient engineer called, but you were out, you f**ker

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Google engineer Tavis Ormandy is under fierce fire on security lists this afternoon for releasing code to exploit an unpatched hole in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

The flaw is in XP's Windows Help Centre. In simple terms, Help uses a white list of approved web pages to go to in order to get help information. But a problem with this white list means it is possible to add unsafe URLs to it.

The attack exploits Internet Explorer but will work with other browsers too. It is even easier if Windows Media Player is also in use.

But far more controversial is how this information has been released by Ormandy. The usual protocol is that you tell the company and wait for a fix to be ready for download before telling the world, and hackers, about the existence of the weakness.

Ormandy chose to post the code needed to exploit the hole to an open security mailing list just five days after informing Microsoft.

His action was immediately criticised by Susan Bradley - "not an enterprise customer, but I am a mouthy female"- who wanted to know what he had heard back from Microsoft since 5 June. She suggested he should have spent a little more time getting angry with Microsoft and emailing them before posting the exploit.

Ormandy left a snotty reply explaining he didn't have time to explain disclosure to Bradley but she could research it for herself. The full post is on FullDisclosure here.

Ormandy seems to believe Microsoft, which is not exactly known for the speed of its responses to security (and many other) issues, would never have acted to patch this hole unless he, or someone else, had also provided code to exploit it.

Other observers suggested Ormandy was acting on behalf of his employer to fuel the row between Google and Microsoft. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.