Feeds

Redmond is patching Windows 8 but NOT Windows 7, say security bods

New tool checks differences, could lead to 0-day bonanza

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft has left Windows 7 exposed by only applying patches to its newest operating systems.

Researchers found the gaps after they scanned 900 Windows libraries and uncovered a variety of security functions that were updated in Windows 8 but not in 7. They said the shortcoming could lead to the discovery of zero day vulnerabilities.

The missing safe functions were part of Microsoft's dedicated libraries intsafe.h and strsafe.h that help developers combat various attacks.

Researcher Moti Joseph (@gamepe) - formerly of Websense - speculated Microsoft had not applied fixes to Win 7 to save money.

"Why is it that Microsoft inserted a safe function into Windows 8 [but not] Windows 7? The answer is money - Microsoft does not want to waste development time on older operating systems ... and they want people to move to higher operating systems," Joseph said in a presentation at the Troopers14 conference.

Microsoft has been contacted for comment.

Together with malware analyst Marion Marschalek (@pinkflawd), the duo developed a capable diffing (comparison) tool dubbed DiffRay which would compare Windows 8 with 7, and log any safe functions absent in the older platform.

It was "scary simple", Marschalek said, and faster than finding vulnerabilities by hand.

DiffRay GUI and flow chart

Security bods could then probe and pluck those functions to identify vulnerabilities and exploits.

In a demonstration of DiffRay, the researchers found four missing safe functions in Windows 7 that were present in 8.

"If we get one zero-day from this project, it's worth it," Joseph said.

Future work will extend DiffRay's capabilities to find potential vulnerabilities in Windows 8.1, add intelligence to trace input values for functions and incorporate more intelligent signatures used to find potential holes. Duplicates and abundant false positives in the current version would also be ironed out.

The presentation slides were available online. (Here in pdf.) ®

Youtube Video

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.