Vulnerabilities / Threats
07:04 PM
Connect Directly

Microsoft Unveils Security Tools, Resources At Black Hat

Dealing with the changing threat landscape requires information sharing, Microsoft says, and it has developed software, guidelines, and programs to help make that happen.

At the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft plans to provide a progress report on the security initiatives that it launched last summer and to release new security tools and information to support security efforts by its customers and partners.

"There's a race between attackers and defenders and if we want to win, we have to share information," said Mike Reavey, director of the Microsoft Security Response Center.

To help realize that goal, Microsoft plans to release the Microsoft Office Visualization Tool, which provides a graphic visualization of the Office binary file format. The software is intended to help IT professionals and security researchers better understand attacks targeting Office files.

The reason for this is that most malware attacks application vulnerabilities rather than operating system vulnerabilities. In the second half of 2008, said Reavey, almost 90% of the vulnerabilities were in the application stack rather than the operating system.

"In order to build protections, you have to understand how a specific file format is meant to be used, so then you can understand how it's being misused," he said.

Microsoft also plans to release Project Quant, an online information resource that aims to provide organizations with a framework for evaluating the cost of patch management processes. According to a survey conduct as part of the project, nearly 50% of respondents had no patch management process for desktop application software or had an informal process.

In addition, Microsoft intends to release the Microsoft Security Update Guide, a publication that explains the entire Microsoft security update process. "Finding good guidance if you're a customer in the sea of information is challenge," said Reavey. "We wanted to provide a guidebook. By sharing how we manage risk, we hope we can help our customers manage risk."

Finally, Microsoft expects to publish a report titled, "Building a Safer, More Trusted Internet Through Information Sharing," which summarizes the three security programs launched at Black Hat 2008.

The three programs are: Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), which supplies vulnerability information to security partners prior to the release of Microsoft's security patches; the Microsoft Exploitability Index, which aims to quantize the risk of vulnerabilities to aid patch prioritization; and Microsoft Vulnerability Research, which helps third-party vendors make their Windows applications more secure.

MAPP, the report claims, has helped Sourcefire reduce the amount of time it takes to build exploit detection for a vulnerability from an average of eight hours to two hours. The report also notes that the Microsoft Vulnerability Index has proven to be 99% reliable, a sufficiently high rate for Microsoft to declare the program a success. And as for Microsoft Vulnerability Research, the report says that the program has identified software vulnerabilities affecting 32 vendors.

Information sharing, the report concludes, is critical to making the Internet safer.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on managing risk. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest September 7, 2015
Some security flaws go beyond simple app vulnerabilities. Have you checked for these?
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-09
Simple Streams (simplestreams) does not properly verify the GPG signatures of disk image files, which allows remote mirror servers to spoof disk images and have unspecified other impact via a 403 (aka Forbidden) response.

Published: 2015-10-09
The Telephony component in Apple OS X before 10.11, when the Continuity feature is enabled, allows local users to bypass intended telephone-call restrictions via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-09
IcedTea-Web before 1.5.3 and 1.6.x before 1.6.1 does not properly sanitize applet URLs, which allows remote attackers to inject applets into the .appletTrustSettings configuration file and bypass user approval to execute the applet via a crafted web page, possibly related to line breaks.

Published: 2015-10-09
IcedTea-Web before 1.5.3 and 1.6.x before 1.6.1 does not properly determine the origin of unsigned applets, which allows remote attackers to bypass the approval process or trick users into approving applet execution via a crafted web page.

Published: 2015-10-09
The Safari Extensions implementation in Apple Safari before 9 does not require user confirmation before replacing an installed extension, which has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
What can the information security industry do to solve the IoT security problem? Learn more and join the conversation on the next episode of Dark Reading Radio.