Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics

1/23/2008
07:30 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft: Vista Has Fewer Flaws Than Other First-Year OSes

Vista logged fewer vulnerabilities in its first year than XP, Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Apple Mac OS X did in their first years

Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system brought home its first-year security report card today: Vista logged less than half the vulnerabilities that Windows XP did in its first year, according to the Microsoft report.

Report author Jeff Jones, security strategy director in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, compiled the number of vulnerability disclosures and security updates in Vista's first year, and compared them to Windows XP, Red Hat rhel4ws, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, and Apple Mac OS X 10.4 in their first years.

According to Jones, Vista came out ahead of all of the other first-year OSes: Microsoft released 17 security bulletins and patches affecting Vista, versus 30 for XP in its first year, for example. And Microsoft fixed 36 vulnerabilities in Vista, versus 65 for XP, according to the report. There are 30 vulnerabilities in Vista that have not yet been patched, and 54 for XP in its first year.

"The results of the analysis show that Windows Vista has an improved security vulnerability profile over its predecessor," Jones writes in his blog. "Analysis of security updates also shows that Microsoft improvements to the security update process and development process have reduced the impact of security updates to Windows administrators significantly compared to its predecessor, Windows XP."

But he also admits that looking at vulnerabilities is just one facet of security. "Is there anything in this analysis which will prove one piece of software is 'more secure' than another? No, that is not my intention," Jones says in his blog. "This report is a vulnerability analysis, which may provide some elements that could be part of a broader security analysis."

Fewer vulnerabilities "make it easier to manage risk," he says. "All other things being equal, fewer patches mean more time to spend on other security projects to reduce risk."

Rich Mogull, founder of Securosis LLC, says exploits and criticality are two additional important vectors to measure for OS security risk. "I think a measure of vulnerabilities, with criticality, mapped to exploitability, mapped to active exploits, is a more interesting metric. Not to take away from Jeff's work. It would be a good follow-on," he says.

"[Vulnerabilities] are only one factor in a risk measurement, and alone [aren't] a true measure of risk," Mogull says. "That's what drives this 'my OS is better than your OS' pissing-match garbage."

In the Vista report, Microsoft notes that there were more vulnerabilities fixed in other OSes in their first years than in Vista: 360 in Red Hat rhe14ws (reduced) in its first year; 224 in Ubuntu 6.06 LTS' (reduced) first year; and 116 in Mac OS X 10.4's first year.

Jones also charted patch events for each OS and found that Vista required fewer patch activity than other OSes.

So what does the Vista report card really mean? "It proves that it [Vista] is quantitatively more secure, but not that it's quantitatively less risky -- what I call security versus safety," Mogull says. "IT managers need to know the overall risk assessment, which includes that data as well as other information sources."

Vista underwent more quality assurance and security testing than any other OS, Mogull says, and it paid off. "The Trustworthy Computing Initiative has resulted in material improvements in the operating system, and other OS vendors should adopt similar practices."

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.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)
  • Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT)

    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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 ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
    Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
    Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
    Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
    Google Lets iPhone Users Turn Device into Security Key
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/15/2020
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Video
    Cartoon Contest
    Current Issue
    The Year in Security: 2019
    This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
    How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
    Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    CVE-2018-16270
    PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
    Samsung Galaxy Gear series before build RE2 includes the hcidump utility with no privilege or permission restriction. This allows an unprivileged process to dump Bluetooth HCI packets to an arbitrary file path.
    CVE-2018-16271
    PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
    The wemail_consumer_service (from the built-in application wemail) in Samsung Galaxy Gear series allows an unprivileged process to manipulate a user's mailbox, due to improper D-Bus security policy configurations. An arbitrary email can also be sent from the mailbox via the paired smartphone. This a...
    CVE-2018-16272
    PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
    The wpa_supplicant system service in Samsung Galaxy Gear series allows an unprivileged process to fully control the Wi-Fi interface, due to the lack of its D-Bus security policy configurations. This affects Tizen-based firmwares including Samsung Galaxy Gear series before build RE2.
    CVE-2019-10780
    PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
    BibTeX-ruby before 5.1.0 allows shell command injection due to unsanitized user input being passed directly to the built-in Ruby Kernel.open method through BibTeX.open.
    CVE-2019-10781
    PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
    In schema-inspector before 1.6.9, a maliciously crafted JavaScript object can bypass the `sanitize()` and the `validate()` function used within schema-inspector.