Microsoft is finding themselves under increasing pressure to release fixes for critical vulnerabilities. This week, Microsoft broke from tradition again and opted to release and early fix for a critical Internet Explorer vulnerability. Since we’ve seen other critical vulnerabilities come up before this one, some of which were being exploited in the wild, why the change of policy? One factor that might be influencing this decision is the sudden availability of third-party patches. Back in March, eEye released an unofficial patch for the MSIE createTextRange() flaw which drew criticism and contempt from Microsoft. Windows/IE users were under no pressure to use the patch, but it gave some an alternative to disabling Active Scripting entirely.
This time around, we’re seeing multiple third parties come up with alternative patches that may help some companies while they wait for Microsoft to officially fix a vulnerability. This week the Internet Explorer setSlice vulnerability is being exploited in the wild with more than two weeks before Microsoft possibly releases a patch for it. With this reoccuring trend of critical vulnerabilities going unpatched for “too long”, a group of security professionals has created a new response team called ZERT to help consumers. Determina has also released a patch for the setSlice vulnerability, giving consumers even more choices in helping to mitigate the threat while waiting for Microsoft to patch.
With more and more third party patches available, will it pressure Microsoft to step up and break the monthly patch cycle more often? Will they realize that making patches available for critical vulnerabilities being exploited in the wild, even if not fully tested, is a better option than consumers finding themselves under the control of computer criminals and botnets? After all, we know that Microsoft is perfectly capable of producing fast patches when they think it is a serious issue.
Paul Clark, Systems Librarian at the Wilderness Coast Public Libraries, has created an excellent timeline of Full Disclosure related articles. Unfortunately, mail to him is bouncing and it hasn’t been updated since 2004. Would be great to see someone pick this up.
Since the debate about pay-for-disclosure started, some folks have wondered what vulnerabilities are worth. We’ve seen companies like Verisign/iDefense and Tipping Point/ZDI offer serious money for vulnerabilities in the past. Adding to the mix, matousec.com has published a purchase page with prices of some of their vulnerability research information:
* Full analysis of reviewed personal firewalls
Visit Windows Personal Firewall analysis methodology page to get information about what the full analysis is. The full analysis is preferentially offered to the product vendor. If the vendor buys the analysis it is given 30 days protection for all private information included in this analysis.
o ZoneAlarm Pro 6.1.744.001 analysis – 1,500 ($ 1,950)
o Kerio Personal Firewall 4.3.246 analysis – 500 ($ 650)
o Norton Personal Firewall 2006 version 188.8.131.52 analysis – 1,500 ($ 1,950)
o BlackICE PC Protection 3.6.cpj analysis – 1,500 ($ 1,950)
* Single bugs of reviewed personal firewalls
Visit Windows Personal Firewall analysis methodology page to get information about what the single bug is.
o ZoneAlarm Pro 6.1.744.001 bugs – visit ZoneAlarm Pro 6.1.744.001 – Review
o Kerio Personal Firewall 4.3.246 bugs – visit Kerio Personal Firewall 4.3.246 – Review
o Norton Personal Firewall 2006 version 184.108.40.206 bugs – visit Norton Personal Firewall 2006 version 220.127.116.11 – Review
o BlackICE PC Protection 3.6.cpj bugs – visit BlackICE PC Protection 3.6.cpj – Review
Ever wondered what some of the bigger vendors do in response to vulnerability Disclosure? Federico Biancuzzi has written an article on his Disclosure survey which may answer the question for you. Apple, Computer Associates, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo all answered to one degree or another. As always, some of the vendors are a bit weak in the description. Take Oracle for example, who says they want researchers to wait for their patch before disclosing. Next he asks the two big vulnerability purchasing shops iDefense and TippingPoint’s ZeroDayInitiative (ZDI) their thoughts. Finally, he asks three prominent researchers; David Litchfield, H D Moore and Michal Zalewski.
I’ve been with the OSVDB project for 1000 days. I am responsible for creating 20,667 entries, moderating 7,791 mangler submissions, and mangling 3,480 vulnerabilities myself. The database contains vulnerabilities dating back to 1965, spanning over 40 years. The database contains over 3,800 cross-site scripting, 2,500 SQL injection and 990 remote file inclusion vulnerabilities. Microsoft enjoys around 1,450 entries while Oracle only has 596, with another 75 or so coming when I catch up with my backlog. Since the addition of a Bugzilla system we have filed 807 bugs, 176 of which are still open. Since opening our doors 337 accounts have been created to work on the project, but 293 are now considered M.I.A., 1 is disabled and 20 are considered ‘abducted by aliens’ (meaning they never logged in once). As of this post, there are 28,319 entries in the database; 13646 Stable, 13928 New, 65 being Mangled, 5 Pending moderator review, and 6 Locked. I can’t even begin to count the e-mail we’ve sent and received related to the project and we’ve written 136 entries on this blog.