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9/16/2009
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Microsoft Gives Away Free Fuzzer, Secure Development Tool

More Security Development Lifecycle tools, ROI paper released

Microsoft continued efforts to spread its own secure software development program with today's release of a free fuzzer and tool for analyzing binary code.

The software giant last year began opening up its Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) for all third-party application developers and enterprises as a way to write cleaner, more secure code. As part of its SDL-sharing strategy, Microsoft has released several free tools for developers, including the SDL Threat Modeling Tool, the !exploitable (pronounced "bang exploitable") Crash Analyzer, an add-on to Microsoft's Windows debugger fuzzing tool; and the SDL Process Template, which integrates Microsoft's SDL directly into third-party and enterprise development environments.

Microsoft's latest tools -- BinScope Binary Analyzer and Mini-Fuzz File Fuzzer -- support the verification stage of the SDL process. "This is the testing phase," says David Ladd, principal security program manager for Microsoft's SDL team. Microsoft also released a white paper on how to manually integrate the SDL Process Template into its existing Visual Studio Team System development projects.

Along with iSEC Partners, the company also released a new report on how to measure the ROI of an SDL program. The report, which includes data from NIST studies and anecdotal data from iSEC, demonstrates how to use metrics to calculate an ROI: "The earlier you can find bugs, the cheaper it's going to be for development organizations," Ladd says.

BinScope Binary Analyzer is an in-house Microsoft tool that analyzes binary source code to ensure the code has flags set for detecting buffer overflows, data execution, and other potential vulnerabilities. The Mini-Fuzz File Fuzzer automatically runs various tests at the code to spot unexpected behaviors that could make it vulnerable.

"It looks for unplanned behavior...and analyzes if there are any security ramifications," he says. "This is our attempt to get more people exposed to fuzzing as a test procedure. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of folks using fuzzing, so we hope give people a low barrier-to-entry tool."

Security experts say Microsoft's open sharing of its SDL process and tools is a good thing. "It can't hurt. It's nice to see them sharing a little of what they have been bragging about for five years," says HD Moore, creator of Metasploit and director of security for BreakingPoint Systems.

"We strongly believe that taking advantage of our SDL tools will make a secure computing experience for everyone -- not just Microsoft [products]," Microsoft's Ladd says.

And Microsoft will continue to develop and roll out secure development tools in the future, he says. "There will always be more tools to come," he says. "Periodically, we will [look at] what we have available [in-house] and what does the threat environment look like? If there's a new threat, we may have to build new tools to address it." Meanwhile, in the new "Microsoft SDL: Return-on-Investment" guide, Microsoft and iSEC Partners include an example of how an organization would save $437,000 in one project, for an ROI of $350,000.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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