Vulnerabilities / Threats
7/11/2013
11:13 AM
50%
50%

Overcome The Microsoft Mindset: Patch Faster

Why can't vendors patch every critical bug like it was the Pwn2Own competition?

9 Android Apps To Improve Security, Privacy
9 Android Apps To Improve Security, Privacy
(click image for larger view)
Software vendors: Prepare to adjust your patching reality.

The long-running debate about how fast software vendors should be required to squash bugs in their products is heating up again, following Microsoft's release on July 9 of a fix for a critical bug that had been detailed publicly by Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy seven weeks prior. Microsoft said the bug had already been exploited in "targeted attacks."

Who's right and wrong in this scenario? Ormandy, for releasing full details of a bug and a working exploit, without giving Microsoft a courtesy call and time to code a fix? Or Microsoft, for dictating the terms of the game and generally giving itself lots of time to fix bugs that aren't being actively exploited?

[ How did a hacker hijack the Emergency Alert System? Read 'Zombie Apocalypse' Broadcast Hoax Explained. ]

Regardless of your take, Google seems set to rewrite the rules of the bug-patching game, after two of its security researchers, Chris Evans and Drew Hintz, issued a warning to vendors in a May blog post: In cases of "critical vulnerabilities under active exploitation," Google will now give vendors only seven days to release a patch. After that time, Google will issue full details of the vulnerability. For anything that's not critical, Google is sticking with its recommendation to fix bugs within 60 days or else issue workarounds and mitigation techniques to affected users.

While acknowledging that the seven-day timeline is "aggressive," Evans and Hintz said everyone stands to benefit. "By holding ourselves to the same standard, we hope to improve both the state of Web security and the coordination of vulnerability management," they said in their post.

Google's revised bug-disclosure timeline is good news for all software users. "It shows that the long timeframes that the industry has been operating under -- find a vulnerability, ensure it's fixed within six months or a year -- isn't adequate," SANS Institute fellow Ed Skoudis told me in a phone interview. "So Google is trying to juice the whole thing to make it happen faster."

Skoudis added: "Microsoft got us into this mindset: You find a flaw, responsibly tell a vendor, and darn it, there will be a fix out within a year."

The annual Pwn2Own competition, hosted by Hewlett-Packard's DVLabs Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), has also been reshaping our collective patching mindset. "Google and Mozilla were able to patch the issues that were being exploited in the competition in less than two days," said ZDI manager Brian Gorenc, speaking by phone. Of course, it was in both companies' best interests to patch their browsers quickly, thus making Chrome and Firefox look better than Internet Explorer. "For actively exploited bugs, they pose an immediate problem for vendors, and they need to be pressured to act quickly," Gorenc said.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
MartinRH
50%
50%
MartinRH,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/14/2013 | 5:25:54 AM
re: Overcome The Microsoft Mindset: Patch Faster
Great piece Mathew. It will be interesting and useful to see if and/or how this pans out. "go git 'em Google!" ;-)
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-2808
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Bionic in Android before 4.1.1 incorrectly uses time and PID information during the generation of random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a rel...

CVE-2014-9713
Published: 2015-04-01
The default slapd configuration in the Debian openldap package 2.4.23-3 through 2.4.39-1.1 allows remote authenticated users to modify the user's permissions and other user attributes via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0259
Published: 2015-04-01
OpenStack Compute (Nova) before 2014.1.4, 2014.2.x before 2014.2.3, and kilo before kilo-3 does not validate the origin of websocket requests, which allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users for access to consoles via a crafted webpage.

CVE-2015-0800
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Mozilla Firefox (aka Fennec) before 37.0 on Android does not properly generate random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a related issue to CVE-2...

CVE-2015-0801
Published: 2015-04-01
Mozilla Firefox before 37.0, Firefox ESR 31.x before 31.6, and Thunderbird before 31.6 allow remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy and execute arbitrary JavaScript code with chrome privileges via vectors involving anchor navigation, a similar issue to CVE-2015-0818.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.