Security Research & Defense

Information from Microsoft about vulnerabilities, mitigations and workarounds, active attacks, security research, tools and guidance

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  • Blog Post: Preventing the exploitation of user mode heap corruption vulnerabilities

    Over the past few months we have discussed a few different defense in depth mitigations (like GS [ pt 1 , pt2 ], SEHOP , and DEP [ pt 1 , pt 2 ]) which are designed to make it harder for attackers to successfully exploit memory safety vulnerabilities in software. In addition to the mitigations that we...
  • Blog Post: New Internet Explorer vulnerability affecting all versions of IE

    Today we released Security Advisory 2488013 to notify customers of a new publicly-disclosed vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE). This vulnerability affects all versions of IE. Exploiting this vulnerability could lead to unauthorized remote code execution inside the iexplore.exe process. Proof...
  • Blog Post: Technical Analysis of the Top BlueHat Prize Submissions

    Now that we have announced the winners of the first BlueHat Prize competition, we wanted to provide some technical details on the top entries and explain how we evaluated their submissions. Speaking on behalf of the judges, it was great to see people thinking creatively about defensive solutions to important...
  • Blog Post: The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit 2.0 is Now Available

    Today we are pleased to announce the availability of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) version 2.0. Users can click here to download the tool free of charge. For those who may be unfamiliar with the tool, EMET provides users with the ability to deploy security mitigation technologies...
  • Blog Post: The History of the !exploitable Crash Analyzer

    At the CanSecWest conference earlier this month we made our first public release of the !exploitable Crash Analyzer . While an upcoming white paper and the CanSecWest slide deck go into detail on the technology involved, we thought it might be useful to explore the history of the tool. Roots in Fuzzing...
  • Blog Post: SEHOP per-process opt-in support in Windows 7

    In a previous blog post we discussed the technical details of Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection (SEHOP) which is an exploit mitigation feature that was first introduced in Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 RTM. SEHOP prevents attackers from being able to use the Structured Exception...
  • Blog Post: Safe Unlinking in the Kernel Pool

    The heap in user mode has a number of different measures built in to make exploiting heap overrun vulnerabilities more challenging. Similar checks have been in debug versions of the kernel pool for some time to aid driver debugging. Windows 7 RC is the first version of Windows with some of these integrity...
  • Blog Post: Released build of Internet Explorer 8 blocks Dowd/Sotirov ASLR+DEP .NET bypass

    Last summer at BlackHat Vegas, Alexander Sotirov and Mark Dowd outlined several clever ways to bypass the Windows Vista defense-in-depth protection combination of DEP and ASLR in attacks targeting Internet Explorer. One approach they presented allowed attackers to use .NET framework DLL’s to allocate...
  • Blog Post: XSS Filter Improvements in IE8 RC1

    On Monday IE8 RC1 was released . Here are some of the most interesting improvements and bug fixes to the XSS Filter feature: Some byte sequences enabled the filter to be bypassed, depending on system locale URLs containing certain byte sequences bypassed the Beta 2 filter implementation in some...
  • Blog Post: Preventing the Exploitation of Structured Exception Handler (SEH) Overwrites with SEHOP

    One of the responsibilities of Microsoft’s Security Engineering Center is to investigate defense in depth techniques that can be used to make it harder for attackers to successfully exploit a software vulnerability. These techniques are commonly referred to as exploit mitigations and have been delivered...
  • Blog Post: Shellcode Analysis via MSEC Debugger Extensions

    In a previous post we provided some background on the !exploitable Crash Analyzer which was released earlier this year. One of the things that we didn’t mention is that !exploitable is just one of the debugger commands exported by the MSEC debugger extension . This extension also contains some additional...
  • Blog Post: Using code coverage to improve fuzzing results

    Hi all, I’m Lars Opstad, an engineering manager in the MSEC Science group supporting the SDL within Microsoft. I wanted to share with you some of the ways that we are improving our internal security practices, specifically in the area of file fuzzing. Many fuzzers take a good file (template) as...
  • Blog Post: GS cookie protection – effectiveness and limitations

    The Microsoft C/C++ compiler supports the GS switch which aims to detect stack buffer overruns at runtime and terminate the process, thus in most cases preventing an attacker from gaining control of the vulnerable machine. This post will not go into detail about how GS works, so it may be helpful to...
  • Blog Post: On the effectiveness of DEP and ASLR

    DEP (Data Execution Prevention) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) have proven themselves to be important and effective countermeasures against the types of exploits that we see in the wild today. Of course, any useful mitigation technology will attract scrutiny, and over the past year there...
  • Blog Post: Mitigating Software Vulnerabilities

    How can you protect yourself, your business, and your customers when faced with an unknown or unpatched software vulnerability? This question can be difficult to answer but it is nevertheless worthy of thoughtful consideration. One particularly noteworthy answer to this question is provided in the form...
  • Blog Post: Enhanced GS in Visual Studio 2010

    In a previous post we noted some stack-based vulnerabilities, such as MS08-067, that GS was not designed to mitigate due to the degree of control available to an attacker. However, other vulnerabilities such as the ANI parsing vulnerability in MS07-017 would have been mitigated if the GS cookie protection...
  • Blog Post: CanSecWest Preview & New Blog URL

    It’s getting busy around here with people preparing for the CanSecWest security conference ( http://cansecwest.com/ ). Many of the Microsoft Security Engineering Center (MSEC) and Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) members that regularly post to this blog will be attending CanSecWest and soaking...