Analytics
11/16/2009
10:00 AM
50%
50%

Does New Microsoft Patent Infringe On Unix Program Sudo?

Some in the open source community suspicious of Microsoft's intent

A patent granted to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has stirred up worry that world's largest software company wants to claim Unix's "sudo" as its own.

Sudo is a Unix program used to raise a user's privilege level to accomplish tasks that require administrative privileges. It allows a user to temporarily execute commands as the root user.

Microsoft's "Rights elevator" patent describes a way to "enable a user to elevate his or her rights," which of course is what "sudo" does.

This apparent similarity has led some in the open source community, cognizant of Microsoft's past hostility toward open source software, to ask whether the company plans to demand a patent licensing fee from open source vendors.

Microsoft may wish it could do so. If so, it won't say: The company declined to comment.

In any event, the "Rights elevator" patent isn't likely to provide Microsoft with the opportunity to seek such fees.

Michael B. Einschlag, a partner at Rosenlaw & Einschlag, which specializes in open source and intellectual property law, said Microsoft's "Right elevator" patent is narrowly framed to cover the graphic user interface used to present computer privilege elevation.

"It's a description of how to present the information to the user," he said. "It doesn't cover the concept of how the user is trying to accomplish some task."

After reviewing documents covering the patent's history, Einschlag pointed to three specific identifiers that the patent's examiner concluded were necessary for Microsoft's invention to qualify as a patentable innovation: frequency of use; association with the current user; and indication of sufficient but not unlimited rights.

"Fundamentally, it's something to make it easy for users to understand how to upgrade their rights," he said.

In short, suspicions about this patent are overblown.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Threat Intel Today
Threat Intel Today
The 397 respondents to our new survey buy into using intel to stay ahead of attackers: 85% say threat intelligence plays some role in their IT security strategies, and many of them subscribe to two or more third-party feeds; 10% leverage five or more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-9688
Published: 2015-03-05
Unspecified vulnerability in the Ninja Forms plugin before 2.8.10 for WordPress has unknown impact and remote attack vectors related to admin users.

CVE-2015-2214
Published: 2015-03-05
NetCat 5.01 and earlier allows remote attackers to obtain the installation path via the redirect_url parameter to netshop/post.php.

CVE-2015-2215
Published: 2015-03-05
Open redirect vulnerability in the Services single sign-on server helper (services_sso_server_helper) module for Drupal allows remote attackers to redirect users to arbitrary web sites and conduct phishing attacks via unspecified parameters.

CVE-2015-2216
Published: 2015-03-05
SQL injection vulnerability in ecomm-sizes.php in the Photocrati theme 4.x for WordPress allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the prod_id parameter.

CVE-2015-2218
Published: 2015-03-05
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the wp_ajax_save_item function in wonderpluginaudio.php in the WonderPlugin Audio Player plugin before 2.1 for WordPress allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) item[name] or (2) item[customcss] parameter in a w...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.