Vulnerabilities / Threats
7/11/2013
11:13 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-0334
Published: 2014-10-31
Bundler before 1.7, when multiple top-level source lines are used, allows remote attackers to install arbitrary gems by creating a gem with the same name as another gem in a different source.

CVE-2014-2334
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiAnalyzer before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

CVE-2014-2335
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiManager before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

CVE-2014-2336
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiManager before 5.0.7 and FortiAnalyzer before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2334 and CVE-2014-2335.

CVE-2014-3366
Published: 2014-10-31
SQL injection vulnerability in the administrative web interface in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted response, aka Bug ID CSCup88089.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.