OMG it’s great to be back in Vegas again – the shows, the shopping, the nightlife, and let’s not forget the talks at Black Hat, the old and new friends, the excitement and the drama. I can hardly wait to see what develops this year!
Last year at Black Hat, the Microsoft Security Response Center announced three new programs – Microsoft Active Protections Programs (MAPP), Microsoft Vulnerability Research (MSVR), and Microsoft Exploitability Index. I was honestly a bit nervous about how the programs would be received. Would the community ridicule them (and us)? Were the programs as solid as we thought they were? Would they stand the test of time? And most importantly, would they help advance community-based defense?
It’s a year later and I’m happy to report that the programs were not only well received, but have proven to be effective, accurate, and continue to deliver results. MAPP is changing the balance between attacker and defender, MSVR is raising the security of the overall ecosystem, and the Exploitability Index continues to provide customers with accurate, easy to understand, and actionable guidance. Today, MSRC published a report card – “Building a Safer, More Trusted Internet through Information Sharing” – that both summarizes these results and provides specifics around goals achieved. Read all about it here.
Today at Black Hat, MSRC also released a new set of tools and guidance aimed at continuing to advance community-based defense and simplify customers’ management of the risk environment.
First up, the Microsoft Security Update Guide - a one stop shop of information on Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, including what information we release, best practices, and a framework to help make the complex patch management landscape more clear. It’s available for free download here.
On the tooling front, the MSRC Engineering team (owners of and contributors to the SRD blog) released the Microsoft Office Visualization Tool. Available for free download here, the new tool lowers the barrier to understanding the Office binary file format by allowing IT professionals, security researchers, and malware protection vendors to deconstruct .doc-, .xls- and .ppt-based targeted attacks.
Lastly, we’re pleased to point to the latest updates from Project Quant, a cost model program for patch management response collaboratively lead by Rich Mogulll (Securosis) and Jeff Jones (Microsoft). With the new information released today – Project Quant Report 1.0, Model Spreadsheet 1.0, and the Survey Report – the community is better able to improve their update practices by addressing many of the challenges organizations face optimizing their systems and maintaining security while striving to keeping costs down.
Black Hat is an exciting time and I’m thrilled to showcase the impact and continued progress of MSRC – and even more so to demonstrate how Trustworthy Computing continues to evolve in response to the changes in the threat landscape, and truly helps protects customers through community-based defense and collaboration.
See you at Caesars!
It’s that time of year again for all of us to pack up and head out to the desert to reconnect, discuss, and plan for the future, or at least what we think will be the future of security. It’s hard to predict what the next year will bring as the security landscape is ever-changing. This is probably why most of us “grey beards” in the security industry mark the Black Hat/Defcon conferences as the de facto year in review/preview of the next year for the state of security. These conferences have defined a lot of security strategies for a number of people for years. But I digressJ; I started to talk about the year-end review for the security landscape.
Looking back over the year, I am pleased to see that we have executed nicely on a couple of strategies we put into place to change the security landscape. The ones I am talking about are the three programs listed below that we launched last year around this time.
I am going to talk about the first two programs as I have been working on both of them for a bit. MSVR has been worked by my colleague Adrian who will be blogging on MSVR in the near future. He will update you about all the exciting things they have been doing over there.
So let’s begin. I want to talk to you first about the Exploitability Index. Like I said, the one-year anniversary is right around the corner and we have been getting a lot of positive feedback from customers on this new program. Looking back, I am happy to see that out of the 140 ratings we provided so far that we only had to revise one rating. The one rating we did change went from a high severity to a lower one (1 to 3).
Let me give some of our reasons for this. We are extremely cautious when we rate things and when in doubt, will tend to go with the higher rating. We want to make sure that those who are using our ratings are protected against exploitation. This is kind of like putting a deadbolt lock on your door even though you live right next to the police station – I would rather be safe than sorry. However, we are always looking for ways to improve our ratings, and we tend to seek out the critical areas where we can or need to improve.
There is no better place, in our mind, to get good feedback than from the security ecosystem. So we were extremely happy when iDefense took up the charge to review our Exploitability Index ratings for the first 120 days. I am sure you are thinking, "Is 120 days really enough time?" Well, it definitely gave a decent snapshot into how the program is progressing. I think it’s also a good timeframe for catching early process deficiencies and other issues. So let me highlight a few things that were discovered during the iDefense review.
Overall assessment: iDefense concluded that the Microsoft Exploitability Index was a step in the right direction. They felt that the Index provides clear value to customers in providing more risk mitigation information. iDefense also felt that it helps system administrators with the prioritization of their system-updating efforts, because with the Index, they can use another piece of information to help set their update schedule.
Out of the fifty-seven vulnerabilities reviewed by iDefense, they considered that only fourteen should have been rated differently. This is a ~75% percent similarity between their analyses and our own.
As with all early efforts, they did find some areas where they had suggestions for improvement. One area is with the rating differences mentioned above. We will be reviewing the reasons for the differences and will be looking at our present process to take their suggestions into account. Check out the full report here.
Now let’s talk about the Microsoft Active Protections Program, or as we call it in the hallways of building 27, “MAPP”. The MAPP program goals were to find a way to shorten the attack window for consumers. We wanted to be able provide enough “just in time” technical information on the vulnerabilities that we were updating every month to help defenders provide software protections faster. It didn’t make sense in our eyes to have verified defenders in the same boat as malicious attackers trying to understand and reverse-engineer our updates to build defenses for our mutual customers.
I am glad to say that we have exceeded our goal. In the program to date, we have 47 companies from around the world, with new partners added in Central and South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, South East Asia, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. This partner network global reach represents software protections that cover a range from tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of consumers. That is nothing to sneeze at! J It doesn’t stop there; we will continue to add more partners to ensure that we arm the defenders with information they need to protect you, our mutual customers. We have some more proof points on how we are shrinking that attack window, but don’t take my word for it, check out the testimonials from the MAPP members themselves in the year-end progress report from MSRC here.
Well, that’s it. Don’t forget to check out the iDefense paper located here and the MAPP paper here. And keep an eye on www.microsoft.com/twc/blogs for more Black Hat blogs from the front lines.
Til next time….
If you haven’t already, take a look at the previous video posts for additional perspectives from other key security community members. All videos will be available on http://edge.technet.com/ after Black Hat.
*Postings are provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.*
How did we become involved in security at Microsoft?
What changes have we seen at Microsoft security over the years?
Keep an eye out for more security personalities sharing their perspectives tomorrow and be sure to visit www.microsoft.com/twc/blogs for additional posts by Katie, Maarten and other TwC Security folks on the ground at Black Hat!
Within Microsoft, we have a community of security defenders.
Our internal community also discusses, debates, deploys, and disseminates security information. We don’t always agree; our perspectives and backgrounds are as diverse as the world we live in. We strive to understand and mitigate flaws in our own products and platforms, and also responsibly research vulnerabilities in third-party software most commonly used by Windows customers. We focus on many different areas, working on not only improving the security of Windows, but of the entire Windows ecosystem.
For me, security is more than a mindset or an end state, it is a mission. Security is a theme that has the power to unite organizations and individuals across teams across geographic and company boundaries. Within this mission, I, along with our internal community, strive to help ‘secure our planet’ by building bridges and creating opportunities for technical information exchange.
As we look to meeting with our security comrades from around the world in Vegas, we thought it would be interesting to highlight the perspectives and backgrounds of individuals within our internal security community of defenders and present them in short videos to be rolled out over the next week.
The Microsoft security community folks profiled answered two questions:
As our challenges have evolved and become a great deal more complex, our collective communities must also rise to the occasion, evolving our security awareness and response. From our security community to yours, we hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about us as we work to understand more about you all.
And remember, in this digital age, what happens in Vegas doesn’t actually stay in Vegas. ;-)
Stay Secure! Sarah
P.S.: Check out our new Trustworthy Computing blog aggregator! (http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/twc/blogs/default.mspx) This handy aggregator is a one-stop TwC resource for security and privacy blogging news at Microsoft. Add it to your RSS feeds to stay up to date on security updates, privacy, malware response, security science news and more.
I guess you are wondering why I said hello in Japanese. I have just recently returned from attending the 21st Forum of Incident Handling and Security Teams (FIRST) annual conference hosted in the awesome city of Kyoto in Japan. The city of Kyoto is beautiful. I was amazed at all the interesting palaces and temples located right in the middle of a modern city. It was truly awesome. What was even more awesome was the 21st FIRST Annual Conference. You have heard us here at Microsoft talk a lot lately about community-based defense initiatives. These initiatives drive the security ecosystem to work in a coordinated fashion to address security issues. This works best by creating a community that is built on trust and common goals. The common goal here is to build coordinated defense from attacks. FIRST is one such trusted, security-focused community. This is one reason why Microsoft supports their efforts. As a community of incident and security response teams, FIRST provides a trusted network to share information and provide coordination efforts that is all member-driven.
Most members work for larger companies but their efforts in the FIRST organization are at times above and beyond the duties of their jobs. FIRST relies on its member community to do a lot of work since it is a not-for-profit organization. The conferences are no different. This year the Japanese local teams of FIRST had the task of assisting the conference organizers set things up. Let me say they did an excellent job. It was surreal from the banquet to the mixer session; it was, in a word, “exquisite.” I personally loved the entertainment by a troupe of local taiko drummers. Check them out here.
It wasn’t all fun and games, though some of it was. Check out the picture above. As you can see, we got the rare chance to interact with the potential future security community thanks to Ziv Mador, a Microsoft security professional from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) group, who brought his family along to the conference. Thanks to Eyal and Ofer Mador who provided us a wonderful chance to show them how cool security professionals can be.
Back to business. As a member of the Steering Committee (SC), we meet year round. However, we usually conduct most annual business at the conference. That business can range from giving status updates on projects to providing the organization’s financial numbers. We also hold elections for the committee when an SC member’s term is up. This year, we elected two new members to the SC, joining the three current members of the committee.
Speaking of elections, I am glad that Microsoft views our participation in FIRST as a key thing. This is extremely good, as it seems I will be spending a fair bit more time working on the FIRST Steering Committee and Board of Directors. At this annual general meeting (AGM), I was elected to be the Chairman of the Steering Committee and President of the Board of Directors for FIRST. I look forward to stepping into these roles to help steer the organization toward its goals.
The conference tracks presented were great and focused on relevant problems faced by incident handling teams, from network monitoring to malware analysis.
We also conducted meetings of special interest groups (SIG) to cover in-depth problems and issues faced by members in the same interest and focus areas. These sessions are really great because you get to meet like-minded peers who are facing the same problems you face. The Law Enforcement SIG and Network Monitoring SIG were well attended this year.
You have heard Andrew Cushman talk about “Hallway Tracks” as a way to label all connections and conversations taking place outside of the presented tracks. The hallway tracks at the conference were golden. The amount of focused security discussion I had out in the hallway will have me set for a month with action items.
Well, that’s it for now. But before I go I wanted to take the time to introduce a new member to the EcoStrat Team. I want to welcome Karl Hanmore to the team. He comes to us from Auscert with a strong CERT background. He will be with us in Vegas at Black Hat… so see ya there!
Aloha from the Shakacon III, a security conference held each year in lovely Honolulu, Hawaii! Although I’m currently in a different region of the world, talking with a completely different segment of the security ecosystem, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the BlueHat Security Forum EU event recently held in Brussels, Belgium.
Celene’s EcoStrat blog post highlighted the collaborative nature of the event and described the amazing content that was presented to the group of key EU security stakeholders. While to be a part of building a new platform for technical information exchange was a success in itself, we all have different priorities. In order to effect change, we must understand each other and work together, across technologies, organizations, and country boundaries. With the building of better collaboration in this community, we all have taken one more step in helping to secure the planet as a collective.
I’ve mentioned in a previous EcoStrat post that the EcoStrat team strives to build bridges and help folks get over them. The BlueHat Security Forum EU event was an example of bridge-building in action. It was rewarding to introduce representatives from governments, industry, and enterprises, as well as individual participants to each other. Prior to the BlueHat Security Forum, this particularly diverse group had never been in the same room discussing current security threat landscapes, understanding together the realities of securing critical national infrastructures and corporate networks alike.
With such a diverse collection of attendees, participants naturally had a wide-range of security priorities. Concerns ranged from targeted attacks to ID theft, defending Web applications and supply chains, developing and deploying secure coding practices to policy development, political concerns within and outside of the EU, and the list goes on.
Certainly the message that there is no one magic solution to security was delivered. There is still so much work to be done. It will take defense-in-depth, secure coding, securing third-party applications and proprietary applications; it will take technology and people. We all understand that security can be likened to an arms race; every innovation we make in security is met by a very sophisticated collective of global malicious actors. We must be vigilant together; we must work together.
Mahalo for reading and here’s to another step towards achieving community-based defense.
Hey folks! I know this is typically the time of year when birds are chirping, the rain is supposed to be letting up, and those of you in the BlueHat network who are normally invited to attend the Spring BlueHat conference are asking yourselves, "Why did MSRC start doing the con only once a year?" The answer, of course, is pretty simple and complicated at the same time. Today marks the beginning of the next evolution of the BlueHat Security Briefings, with the launch of the BlueHat Security Forum taking place at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center in Brussels, Belgium.
Following the success of the BlueHat Security Briefings, entering its 9th iteration this October 22-23 at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, the BlueHat Security Forum EU event is an invitation-only gathering and network of select government and enterprise decision-makers from throughout the European Union. Attendee country representation includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Today’s Forum gathering in Brussels features lively presentations on the latest developments in information security from Microsoft leaders and external security researcher luminaries.
The primary objective of the BlueHat Security Forum is to build bridges between our Microsoft Security Leadership team, key Enterprise security stakeholders, and members of the security research community. The secondary objective is to participate in candid, actionable, and constructive dialogue with key enterprise customers that will help Microsoft produce enterprise-ready, value-laden products and services. The BlueHat Security Forum planning team formulates discussion topics for these meetings based on current security hot topics, new research and trends.
Today's BlueHat Security Forum EU event agenda will address:
· E-crime attacks, the vulnerability economy and the global threat landscape
· Security in the cloud, DNS security, and the malware landscape
· Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) processes and integrating a Security Development Lifecycle (SDL)
And did I mention our stellar line up? J Presenters from Microsoft Trustworthy Computing include Andrew Cushman, Director of Trustworthy Computing Security; David Pollington, Director of Security, Europe; Vinny Gullotto, General Manager, Microsoft Malware Protection Center; Alex Lucas, Principal Security Development Lead; Mike Reavey, Director of MSRC; and from Global Foundation Services, Martin Rues, Director for Cloud Security, Microsoft & Scott Oxley, Lead Architect for Cloud Security, Microsoft. External presenters include Iftach Amit, Director, Security Research, Aladdin; Dragos Ruiu, CEO SecWest Conferences, Security Technology Specialist; Dan Kaminsky, Director of Penetration Testing, IOActive; and Scott Stender, Principal, iSEC Partners, Inc.
We are seeking to build upon the momentum of past events by showcasing how individual strategies can intersect to offer substantial benefits and positive-sum outcomes. As with the local BlueHat conference, we are looking to demystify global and regional security threats, and to create channels for productive information exchange on common threats between the security industry, governments and researchers. Future regional BlueHat Security Forums are planned for Asia in 2010 and LATAM in 2011.
Next up: save the date for BlueHat v9 this October 22-23 in Redmond. Stay tuned for more updates and information to come here and on the BlueHat Blog. Be sure to check out Iftach Ian Amit’s post also coinciding with the Forum, Getting a business degree as part of Security Research?
IRL: TwC Security All-Star Guest Bloggers
Likes: Security, Vulnerability Research & Science, Defense and Responsible Disclosure
Dislikes: 0-day, FUD
Marhaban! Maarten Van Horenbeeck here from the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC). This is the first time I have blogged here on EcoStrat. As a Security Program Manager with MSRC, one of the roles I have is to work with security researchers, and this often involves attending security conferences to meet with you. Two weeks ago, a couple of us in Trustworthy Computing (TwC) attended the Hack in the Box (HITB) security conference in hot and sizzling Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
There is a saying that "every word in Arabic either means itself, its opposite, or a camel." Working in the information security industry, I often use this to illustrate to my clients how a piece of code that one person considers a vulnerability, can very well be seen as valid functionality by another. As such, my Microsoft colleagues and I were very interested in learning more about other Arabic sayings that could be applied to the information security industry as a whole.
Hack in the Box is a twice-annual conference, taking place in Dubai, UAE during April, and somewhat later in the year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Given our past experiences with the value of the talks at the conference, Microsoft was a Titanium sponsor of this event.
The Dubai conference is more intimate than the Malaysia one, but that is exactly what makes it a great way for local information security professionals to network and learn more about cutting edge security research that is taking place all across the world. Presenters ventured from as far as Indonesia, the United States, and Germany.
At Microsoft, I think we can safely admit that in order to pioneer security efforts, we were forced to make every single mistake in the book and learn from it. When I started with the company, I was fascinated to see that we are in fact very good at learning. When we deal with an issue, we like to understand how we can resolve similar issues more effectively in the future. As such, we don’t just attend conferences to learn, but to start up a conversation – we are interested in sharing our own experiences as well as touching base with others.
Microsoft employees had two presentations lined up for this event. Mark Curphey, the director of Microsoft's Information Security Tools team, had a keynote presentation on security tools and technology for effective risk management. Mark focused on how most security tools and technology available to effectively manage risk can only be described as primitive in comparison to those used in most other areas of risk management, such as online gaming or healthcare. From my own experience as a security consultant, I can echo his finding that Microsoft Office Excel is often the most effective tool risk managers have at their disposal.
This is a gloomy situation, given the amount of risk most organizations are exposed to, but a broad sigh of relief was voiced by the audience when Mark clarified his team is working here at Microsoft on solving just that issue.
After Mark's talk, Ian Hellen from Microsoft's Security Assurance team and I spoke to several attendees who wanted to learn more about how M
icrosoft deals with application security issues. We understood from them that there is a lot of internal software development taking place in Dubai to support business processes, and many of the attendees asked questions about how they could make their own applications more secure. We talked to them about the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), which is our standardized approach to software security. If you have similar interests, you can read more about it here.
Billy Rios, one of our resident security engineers, delivered a fascinating presentation on the concept of trust relationships in Web applications, and more specifically how a disparity exists between the security models implemented in Web applications, and those implemented by the browsers that host those applications. In addition, he collaborated with Chris Evans from Google to share with the audience some of their experiences with cross-domain issues and practical man-in-the-middle attacks on SSL.
While there was too much content at the conference for me to discuss in depth here, I will mention some of the other highlights.
Roberto Preatoni from WabiSabiLabi, one of our guests at BlueHat 6, presented on cyber warfare. He refuted Marcus Ranum’s 2007 statement at HITB Malaysia that cyber warfare is an overrated issue, by calling out several examples of contemporary cyber war. He illustrated how it may not just affect nation-states but its conflicts of interest can affect industries and individual corporations as well.
Reverse engineers in the audience welcomed Sebastian Porst from Zynamics. He spoke about REIL, their Reverse Engineering Intermediate Language, and more specifically how it can be used to optimize static binary code analysis. They actually used one of our vulnerabilities, the Windows Server Service vulnerability patched in MS08-067 (read more about it here and here) to illustrate how their tool works. This was definitely a topic many of our own engineers are deeply interested in.
Another well received talk came from Wes Brown of IOActive. He provided a good primer on analyzing malicious code, and gave it a twist by describing how languages, Unicode, and even culture all make a difference and make the reverse engineer’s work just a wee bit more difficult.
At the end of the conference, Microsoft sponsored the sunset Post-Conference Reception, which allowed for more valuable networking opportunities.
Sometimes dealing with security incidents and vulnerabilities can feel like marching across a desert. Confidentiality is an unspoken requirement, and often you can only rely on your own senses, knowledge and intuition. It is a great thing that just like in Dubai, there are watering holes where we can come together and rely on each other implicitly, sharing information and improving the state of the art in our business. Thanks, Hack in the Box, for a great conference, and we’ll see you next time. Ma’a salama.
[Editor's note: check out the BlueHat Blog for another Microsoft perspective on HITB-Dubai]
Hey, Steve here. Just finally settling back in after traveling a bit, meeting up with different parts of the security ecosystem. It was good to get out and see firsthand events like CanSecWest, and most recently Black Hat Amsterdam where I met with security specialists in and around the EU. Now that I am back in the States, I have caught up on my reading. I came across this article about what the US Air Force did to ensure that every computer delivered to them was in a set and secure configuration. This is a great approach and, if you can do it, I highly recommend it because the alternative is to bolt on security at the end, and that is always costly and not fool-proof.
There is, however, a part of the article that is unclear. The article talks about how Microsoft was pressured into releasing special Windows XP versions for only the Air Force and government agencies. This is just not true.
Anyone can build their own “locked down” versions of Windows XP. They are available to anyone and everyone, not just government agencies or the Air Force. The security guidelines used as the basis of these configurations are publicly available as part of the Security Compliance Management Toolkit Series. By the way, I recently reviewed the section about securing Windows XP. These guides have been offered for some time and they are pretty good.
Regular home consumers and system administrators of enterprise IT shops can use these guides to help increase protections for themselves and their environment as part of a defense-in-depth strategy. If enterprise IT shops use these guides as a baseline for providing preconfigured workstations to their customers, or if they later configure the workstations via scripts or Group Policy Object (GPO)s to the secure baseline outlined in the guides, they would reduce a significant risk point to the enterprise by not introducing unsecure workstations to their secure environment.
A workstation can be adjusted or not adjusted depending on its use or need. This also helps with the task of configuration management as anything in the environment would be configured to an established, secure baseline that is current with security updates. Anything else is a deviation and should be segmented or investigated often to assess its security.
Another thought for Enterprise IT shops is that they use these publicly available guides to work with their procurement process, or directly with desktop hardware suppliers, to ensure that any workstation delivered or purchased comes preconfigured to this secure baseline. This saves time and worries for the IT staff because by following these guidelines, any machine joining a network is already in a semi-secure state. I say semi-secure because IT staffs would still need to ensure that the workstation has all the latest and greatest updates from Windows Update, or a corporate managed update provisioning server like WSUS..
By following these hardening guidelines, some of the security basics will be taken care of, like enforcing complex passwords by the operating system. This saves time and effort when trying to secure one's own systems. Every little bit does help.
As I said earlier, these security configuration guides are public and located here: Security Compliance Management Toolkit Series. We would love to hear feedback on the guides. You can contact the team that created them directly at email@example.com.
'Till next time,