Pure and simple as a hammer to the forebrain


Stupid Security Tool for Stupid SysAdmins
2001-03-13 16:01:46

Laughable Technology
In case any of you decide to off yourself, may I please have your head?
-- Head Freezin' Gene


As a clueful systems administrator, part of my job is to keep the 3v1l hax0rs out of my network. In fact, that's the reason why I got this job in the first place -- everyone knows computer security is dead sexy. The chicks fall all over you.

At present, I'm in an end-to-end Microsoft environment at a Really Big Computer Corporation(tm). So while part of me just laughs at each new Microsoft Security Update (in big, self-righteous HAR HAR HARs), another part (the part that gets paid), shudders in dread with every release. So, the reports of Soviet barbarians at the gates caused some initial distress for me, personally.

Of course, after a cursory read, I learned that these ex-Commies were using old, known, and easily patched exploits. I rested easy, trusting in my current (and recently audited) MS band-aids.

But, just for kicks, I downloaded Patchwork, a "program that would determine instantly whether a Windows NT system is vulnerable to the attack," distributed by the auspiciously-named Center for Internet Security(SM). My partner, "Miggidy" Mike D, ran this much-lauded and highly anticipated utility on a test box.

Thank our lucky stars, Patchwork "confirms that this system contains the patches, updates, and security configurations this 'Patchwork' program was designed to verify." Though the emphasis is mine, the message is in a big, reassuring, green font. Furthermore, if that's not misleading enough, it also proudly states, "IIS is updated and SAFE for Internet use." (Emphasis theirs, this time.)

This machine, by the way, is running W2K Advanced, with only hotfixes Q277873 and Q259728 installed. No Service Pack. No other hotfixes. All the default script mappings. All the services turned on. All the default virtuals. Basically, a machine which could be compromised by a half dozen other known exploits (like this one or this one), if we were dumb enough to put this on the Internet.

I'll concede that SANS, CIS, and Gibson Research pepper their README's with excuses and caveats about how no system is truly secure, the program is designed to audit for a limited set of vulnerabilities, blah blah blah. Yet, in the very title bar, it calls itself the "Windows Anti-Intrusion Patch Check & Scan." Oh, and the author crows it "was hand crafted -- byte by byte -- in 100% pure 32-bit Intel assembly language." A little hyperbole? In a MS "security" application? Perish the thought!

Let's face it: Companies which run NT as their enterprise are easy to fool. After all, they're using Windows. Programs like this -- endorsed by the FBI, by the way -- are not helping ensure America's security against an onslaught Cold War dropouts. Not one bit.

In fact, I envision a plague of panicky meetings with security administrators, wasting thousands of man-hours arguing for or against this dopey application, resulting in huge losses of productivity in an already depressed tech sector.

Talk about an ingenious Denial of Service attack.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.


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