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Week of 5 September 2006
They're at it again - and you're the loser. Big time.
At this point anyone suckered in by this transparent tripe deserves the consequences. It's not as if the principles of secure Internet computing are hidden away somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan. They're out there, all over the place, and anyone and everyone has had ample time to read them by now.
You don't secure the bloody computer by securing the Internet - you secure the bloody computer by securing the bloody computer. For chrissake. Bill.
And Helen. Meet Helen Wang. She's a PhD from Berkeley. She's typical of the cull coming up and taking employment at Microsoft. Money talks but bullshit talks too as Bill has demonstrated, and as long as Bill has the hegemony he's not leaving go. And he doesn't really give a royal hoot how badly you get hurt.
He won't go out of his way to hurt you - at least not all of the time - but he won't do the right thing either. And he knows what that right thing is.
And he won't do it.
Helen works with John Dunagan. You can see his personal page at Microsoft here. John got his PhD in 2002 at MIT for applied mathematics. His personal page has a photo from June 2006 of him and his lovely wife.
Helen and John have a lot of 'job opennings' [sic]. Whoever does the web work consistently spells 'openings' incorrectly. Hopefully their coding syntax will be better.
Helen and John are running a project at Microsoft called 'Shield'. You can find the project page here. And they currently have an 'openning' for a 'research software development engineer'.
'Software patching has not been an effective first-line defense preventing large-scale worm attacks, even when patches had long been available for their corresponding vulnerabilities', says the project page. And certainly that is true: operating systems like Windows will never be secure whilst other non-Windows systems will never be insecure. Further, open source software will never suffer from this no matter the level of crisis, for users are not at all dependent on a proprietor getting in gear and fixing the code: everyone has it and news can spread fast.
And then of course there's the question of why such egregious patches should be needed in the first place. On Windows this happens almost by the hour; on other platforms it happens almost never. Once again Microsoft are fighting their own menace.
The Shield project proposes to implement 'shields': 'vulnerability specific exploit generic network filters'. Those are big words. Almost impressive.
But they're not working to secure Windows - they're trying to run up in front and disinfect the bloody Internet itself.
Bill Gates' problems become everyone's.
'These filters examine the incoming or outgoing traffic of vulnerable applications, and drop or correct traffic that exploits vulnerabilities', the page goes on. 'Shields are less disruptive to install and uninstall, easier to test for bad side effects, and hence more reliable than traditional software patches. Further, shields are resilient to polymorphic or metamorphic variations of exploits.'
'Polymorphic' and 'metamorphic' in the same sentence. Wow. And 'metamorphic'? What is that supposed to mean? Do they even know? Does anyone even care?
'In the Shield project, we're showing that this concept is feasible by implementing a prototype Shield framework that filters traffic at the transport layer.' So it's a type of firewall. Firewalls - we've seen it, we've done it. They didn't help before - not on Windows at any rate - and they're not about to help now either. No matter how many PhDs and others who jump on the 'job opennings' try.
Then there's GAPA - which in Swedish means 'open your fat mouth big and wide'. It's an acronym for 'generic application-level protocol analyser'. Note the importance of the obsequious hyphen in there: otherwise the acronym becomes GALPA and that never would make any sense.
'Applications such as intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and network management and monitoring tools use protocol analyzers to parse messages and keep track of protocol state.' That's impressive. And it's mostly true. In other words it's not 'new ground'.
GAPA uses its own protocol analysis language GAPAL which is absolutely necessary, or so says the web page, because 'the current practice of writing such analyzers in C or similar languages incurs high development costs and often yields analyzers that are vulnerable to memory corruption and resource consumption attacks'. Which certainly is true at Microsoft - but hardly anywhere else.
Microsofties just write shitty code. It's a fact.
'GAPAL's message parsing supports both text and binary messages with a BNF-like syntax similar to that found in many RFCs, easing message format specification.' This is where they're trying to leave you behind - to dazzle you. You're not supposed to know what a BNF is. It's a Backus-Naur form. So don't be dazzled.
Now we come to the piéce de resistance. This is what Helen and John worked so hard for. 'Vulnerability-driven filtering of network data can offer a fast and easy-to-deploy alternative or intermediary to software patching, as exemplified in Shield.'
Oh how lovely.
'This approach provides protection for the time window between patch release and patch application.'
Ditto. And after all, Windows (l)users are frantic with all the updates - which often break their networks and support systems because they're so crappy - and now Microsoft want to force updates on people whether they want them or not - and of course don't say 'no' to the opportunity of installing trojans of their own.
And in case you didn't get this, the issue is not about your security - it's about Bill's good name. It isn't about you losing all in yet another worm outbreak - it's about the bad PR Bill gets. This why such a cockamamie scheme is even considered.
'This time window is critical because attackers often reverse engineer newly released patches to gain vulnerability knowledge and then launch attacks against unpatched machines.'
True - but what are we looking at here? Are we looking at security in general or the deplorable state of Microsoft security in particular?
'The dynamic content we target is the dynamic HTML in web pages, which have become a popular vector for attacks.'
True again, but this only works with unbelievably crappy browsers like Internet Explorer when built on top of even crappier systems like Microsoft Windows.
Windows has absolutely no defences. Get over it. And Internet Explorer lets the whole planet in. Internet Explorer was condemned by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Read that again. And again. Until it sinks in so it never gets out.
'The key challenge in filtering dynamic HTML is that it is undecidable to statically determine whether an embedded script will exploit the browser at run-time. We avoid this undecidability problem by rewriting web pages and any embedded scripts into safe equivalents, inserting checks so that the filtering is done at run-time.'
'Undecidable'? 'Undecidability'? Are there any 'opennings' for spell checkers? And what does all this gobbledegook mean?
It means a few things.
- Microsoft can't secure your computer and they know it.
- Now they're going to start censoring web traffic instead.
- Microsoft can't secure your computer.
- Microsoft can't secure your computer.
'The rewritten pages contain logic for recursively applying run-time checks to dynamically generated or modified web content, based on known vulnerabilities.'
Somewhere in the suburbs of Moscow a hacker guru in the employ of organised crime reads Helen's and John's project page. He places a call to Rio de Janeiro.
There's a change in plans - for the better. In the future they'll be using a secret website hidden away and password protected where they can test their 'dynamic content' on the latest filters available from Microsoft. They'll fiddle with their code until they can get it through and then they'll unleash it on the world - on you.
And you'll suffer. Because Windows itself is not, never has been, cannot, and never will be capable of being protected.
You're the loser - if you're still on Windows and if you sucked up any of this.
Do the Research
Do the research now - before Vista and Shield are unleashed on the planet. While you still have a chance to get out. A few links follow in the final section. Click on them. Read. Learn. And if you're a shop, start planning your bloody migration away from these idiots. And if you're a kitchen table user, leave them now. Don't wait another minute.
Helen and John are qualified and with time could do great things, but don't forget who they're working for. Their employer needs all the third party software to survive and to hold onto that hegemony. And if Windows was rewritten from the ground up to be secure, none of that software would run.
Given a choice of continued revenues in the billions or seeing you damaged, the choice is easy for humanitarian Bill. Windows must not change, and so must remain endemically insecure, more and more green engineers with precious little experience are hired on to accomplish the impossible, and journalists are tasked with spreading more hype, more sophisticated lies - and it's all geared to making you renew your Windows licence.
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You cannot log on to Windows XP after you remove Wsaupdater.exe
The Vista Screenshots
Windows OneCare Live
Writing on the Wall
Bringing clarity to your world
Shoulders of Giants
How Windows is @#$%ing You
Gates' War on Terrorism
Long Live the Registry
The Myth of LUA
Magical Vista Tour
MS ActiveVapor Revisited
Rants Come, Rants Go
Why We Don't Upgrade to Win2K
Of ThinkPads & Trojans
Windows Requires Work Which Hinders Use
It's Dèjá Vu All Over Again
This Week's Windows News: The Nyxem Countdown
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The Long Wait
Windows XP Service Pack 2
What To Do (To Be Secure)
Making Your Puter Purr
Ou Ou The Sky Is Falling!
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Consumer Alert - Microsoft
Anthology MS: Greatest Hits
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XPSP2 Update IV: Chaos & Confusion
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XPSP2 Update VII: ActiveImelda®
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