tssci security


I often sound like a Linux bigot.

Before I was a labeled as a Linux bigot, I was considered a classic FreeBSD bigot (so you would think I like Mac OS X, but I don't). Before everyone tagged me as a FreeBSD bigot, I again gave the impression of being a Linux bigot (but that was before 2.2.2 when Slackware first came out; I mostly used Linux early on as SLS). Before everyone was sure that I was a first generation Linux bigot, I was also considered a 386BSD bigot. Before 386BSD, my background demonstrated that I had to be a SunOS 3.x/4.x bigpot (because it was my first introduction to Unix). Before that, everyone thought I was into Amigas or something.

This is all very untrue, including the parts about Mac OS X. I am not an OS bigot; I am not a fanboy. I like computers and computers like me. I'll use anything you put in front of me, especially if it's free hardware and software. Microsoft is no exception.

Microsoft is big. Microsoft thinks they own everything. Microsoft thinks ASP.NET is bigger and better than Java EE or PHP and that C#/CIL is bigger than Java.

I really like Microsoftisms. Microsoft Vista is incredible. It consistently amazes me. Mono/.NET is the way to go for all programming. C# is the best language and has the best community. ASP.NET 3.5 is the third best framework for web application programming, right after HDIV SpringMVC (best) and HDIV Struts2. JSF is probably fourth place. I also like Grails and RoR, but these are toys compared to JEE and ASP.NET. Toys in the same way that first generation Linux was also a toy.

Microsoft went and released the sources to the .NET framework almost three weeks ago (check out this link is for Casaba Security who hasn't blogged in quite some time until just recently!). Last week, I found out that the Microsoft Code Gallery (formerly known as the GotDotNet community portal) is back and in full force. Microsoft also released Wave 0 for Vista yesterday, not to mention Windows Server 2008. Would this have anything to do with Bill Gates passing on the crown? I doubt it.

Bill Gates started the Trustworthy Computing initiative in 2002 from a memo in 2001. TwC is an acronym that reminds me of SwA (Software Assurance), and this is what the concept is probably really about. Software Assurance is a concept that nobody besides Matt Bishop seems to be able to talk about effectively. Even Gary McGraw is too busy with gaming to worry about tackling such a large issue.

The new SwA is now called "Secure SDLC", which is one word with one acronym I'm very happy to see next to each other. The Microsoft SDL is widely touted as the only Security Lifecycle around, which is completely untrue. Threat-modeling (which I refer to as "attack-modeling") came from Microsoft -- actually, no, it's much better explained by either the DHS BHI's Architectural Risk Analysis or the Octotrike Trike and Privilege-centric Analysis models. Smart fuzzing is another huge Microsoft win, were it not for the work by VDA Labs, DVLabs, Codenomicon, and a few other fuzzer shops. SAL, SLAM, and Phoenix/Cthulhu were all partially responsible for kernel/driver security "beefing-up" in Windows Vista. Can you think of other recent wins for Microsoft?

Sure, more web applications are written in PHP than ASP.NET (all versions) and Classic ASP combined. Of course Microsoft stole ASLR from GRSecurity and OpenBSD. The Microsoft SDL is a clear rip-off of SSE-CMM or Cigital Touchpoints. Threat-modeling is really just informal (i.e. arguments for) specification during design for risk-based and security reasons. Even fuzzing has been around since that Bart Simpson guy got that cool haircut -- and he probably stole it from methods combining source tracing, structural analysis, and advanced forms of functional testing that came out of the early 1970's.

All of the above "a priori" intellectual property may have been stolen by Microsoft -- and then subsequently patented by them, but they were the ones that made it work for the masses.

So it didn't surprise me when Fortify announced support for .NET last March in their Defender product, or has had support for .NET throughout their SCA product. What surprises me is that Microsoft hasn't bought them yet.

If you haven't already checked out Fortify's products, I suggest you get their book, "Secure Programming with Static Analysis" -- however, you can also find reference and screenshots of SCA in "Software Security: Building Security In" as well as "Buffer Overflow Attacks: Detect, Exploit, Prevent". Even if you're lacking in the book department, you can at least check out Marcus Ranum's review of their tools with some amazing screenshots.

Ranum attempts to hint throughout his article the difference between `security researchers' and `vulnerability pimps'. He claims, "if [...] `security researchers' actually wanted to be useful, they'd be working as part of the code audit team for Oracle, or Microsoft. But then they couldn't claim their fifteen minutes of fame on CNN or onstage at DEFCON.". He's right, of course.

In a recent blog post from Bryan Sullivan on the Microsoft SDL Blog we see striking similarities. Bryan is interested in creating a sort of Sexy Development Lifecycle where Linux GNOMEs compile C programs for you. Ok, that's not exactly what Bryan said, but there is a lot to be said about the fact that software security is no longer about ad-hoc penetration-testing. Vulnerability pimps are a dead breed. In 2008, anybody can use tools like Fortify SCA or .NET Reflector/Deblector to find bugs. Have we already moved on in security research to where software vulnerabilities are no longer considered research, but novel software weaknesses are the minimum barrier to entry for BlackHat or even DEFCON?

Posted by Dre on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 in Security and Windows.

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