Steve Riley on Security

Formerly of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group.

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  • Blog Post: More on the necessity of antivirus software

    A few days ago, I wrote a brief post about my non-use of antivirus software on my own computers. A number of people have asked me privately if I am recommending such a stance to other individuals or to organizations. Let me be perfectly clear: absolutely not. For the vast majority of folks, the four...
  • Blog Post: It's time to stop playing war games in the name of "security"

    Really interesting article. Military mindset no longer applicable in our line of work http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/columnItem/0,294698,sid14_gci1171862,00.html My favorite bit: "Obviously, secrecy is important to business, as is the ability to trust messages to the military, but these two...
  • Blog Post: Domain controller security: it starts at layer zero

    Recently I seem to have had the same conversation over and over again, in places as far apart as Jakarta, Winnipeg, and Berlin. The question is usually worded like this: "What happens if someone steals one of my domain controllers?" There is, essentially, only one correct answer, which is this...
  • Blog Post: When you say goodbye to an employee

    ...what do you do with his or her account? Recently this question came up -- someone was asking for guidance on how to handle this very situation. And, as often happens, the question was more about process and policy than anything to do with the technical issues of account management. Those of you who...
  • Blog Post: Security myths and passwords

    I like this a lot. http://www.cerias.purdue.edu/weblogs/spaf/general/post-30/ In the practice of security we have accumulated a number of “rules of thumb” that many people accept without careful consideration. Some of these get included in policies, and thus may get propagated to environments...
  • Blog Post: What's your data worth? More importantly, to whom?

    This week, I'm attending and spoke at a cybercrime conference in Singapore. One of the presenters made a very good point, and I want to share it with you. When considering how to protect your data, don't consider how valuable it might be to an attacker. Always, instead, consider how valuable it is to...
  • Blog Post: Return on security investment

    Soon I will begin a research project into quantifying and expressing return on security investment. From conversations I've had with many conference attendees, there's a need for developing a basic understanding of how to measure ROSI so that budget money for security magically becomes unlocked. I plan...
  • Blog Post: Why administrative passwords will never be like nuclear missile launchers

    During the past few months many people have lamented that Windows lacks a nuclear missile style control option for administrator passwords. Surely you've read about or seen photographs of missile silos where two operators, separated by a distance greater than the span of a single human's arms, must each...
  • Blog Post: Did you know that you ALREADY have an e-mail policy?

    An email access policy can be expressed in one of two ways: E-mail is mission critical to our business. Therefore, we permit employees to read and compose e-mail from any location in the world where employees can access the Internet, using either company-issued devices or public Internet terminals...
  • Blog Post: Who should do your security audits? Or, how do you organize the security department?

    An interesting question came up today. The group responsible for configuring and maintaining the firewalls at a customer also believes that they should be the only ones to audit their configurations. Others in the security department are uneasy with this, and prefer that someone else do the auditing...
  • Blog Post: Attacks against integrity

    I’ve been mentioning this frequently during my talks in the last 12 months: that accidental or malicious data modification is yet something else we need to defend against. Richard Bejtlich wrote last year about attack progressions , and this year summarized an accidental integrity error that created...
  • Blog Post: Antivirus software -- who needs it?

    In the newsgroups a few weeks ago, someone asked about which anti-virus software is best for experts. This is a really curious question. I've been involved in computer security -- as a practitioner, a consultant, and an instructor/speaker -- for several years. I feel fairly confident in calling myself...
  • Blog Post: Enabling Secure Anywhere Access in a Connected World

    A few times each year, Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer publish an executive memo. The first memo was Bill's essay on trustworthy computing , in July 2002. Today Bill has a new memo , one that is very important for all of us who strive to achieve a balance between being secure and, well, getting work done...
  • Blog Post: New column -- The case of the stolen laptop

    Seems like once a week I hear from someone worried about stolen laptops -- or, worse, just joined the ranks of laptop theft victimhood. The best way to stay out of that club is to keep the thing with you at all times, or leave it in your hotel room when you don’t want to carry it around. Yes, everyone...
  • Blog Post: When security breaks things

    Now that the furor has waned, I want to comment on MS05-051. For those of you who don't memorize bulletin numbers (I am part of that set; Susan Bradley , for example, isn't, hehe), this is the security update that fixed a number of vulnerabilities found in MSDTC and COM+; it replaced five other updates...
  • Blog Post: Trustworthy Administrators

    The article is posted in the security management column section on TechNet and is the Viewpoint article in the July security newsletter. Check it out, and please tell me what you think. It's been generating some opinions :) Do you trust your administrators? That seemingly innocent question creates...
  • Blog Post: Password policies. Once again.

    Recently in the newsgroups ( news:microsoft.public.security , to be specific) the question of password polices and the out-of-box defaults came up. The poster lamented a number of things: that Microsoft doesn't enable account lockout by default, that we don't have a built-in mechanism for automatically...
  • Blog Post: Configure your router to block DOS attempts

    Some time ago I had a discussion with a friend. He disagreed with my recommendations on how to configure a border router and the firewall behind it. I claimed that in the border router between you and your ISP, configure the six rules to block most denial of service traffic; in the firewall, configure...
  • Blog Post: But I can't test! My boss won't let me

    Yesterday I mentioned that there's no substitute for doing your own testing of updates. I mentioned virtualization is your friend -- building a model of your environment using Virtual PC and Virtual Server will save you a lot of money and it's something you can quickly tear down and rebuild whenever...
  • Blog Post: It's me, and here's my proof: why identity and authentication must remain distinct

    My February Security Management column is posted: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/columns/secmgmt/sm0206.mspx No matter what kinds of technological or procedural advancements occur, certain principles of computer science will remain -- especially those concerning information security...
  • Blog Post: What do YOU need out of two-factor authentication?

    Two-factor authentication continues to grow in popularity and emerge as a security requirement for many people I meet with. At Microsoft, we use smartcards internally for VPN access right now; soon we'll be requiring smartcards for domain logon, too. We are also looking at ways to require two-factor...
  • Blog Post: Plan now to eliminate "power users" from your domains

    I've seen some conversations lately about the Power Users group -- how powerful is it, really, and why did we remove the group from Windows Vista? That group had rights install software and drivers. And if you can install software and drivers, then you can elevate yourself to Administrator or SYSTEM...
  • Blog Post: Article in the works: trusting your administrators

    At TechEd US this year Jesper and I noted a new worry many of you were having: trusting your administrators. Or, more accurately it seems, an inability to trust your administrators. This is troubling, since these are the people who have unfettered access to pretty much everything in your network. Seems...
  • Blog Post: Updated Microsoft Security Assessment Tool

    Greetings. In case you haven’t already read about it, we recently updated the Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT). Version 4.0 hit the web on 31 October. It’s been four years since the initial release, and two years since the prior version. Between then and now your security world has evolved a...