[ISN] Security UPDATE--The Future of Malware Defense? -- March 16, 2005

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Thu Mar 17 2005 - 23:37:59 PST


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High Availability for Windows Services 

10 Ways to Effectively Secure Active Directory


1. In Focus: The Future of Malware Defense?

2. Security News and Features
   - Recent Security Vulnerabilities
   - New Security Patches and Updates from Microsoft
   - Microsoft Takes Action Against Malware

3. Instant Poll

4. Security Toolkit
   - Security Matters Blog
   - Security Chat
   - FAQ
   - Security Forum Featured Thread

5. New and Improved
   - Fight Phishing


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==== 1. In Focus: The Future of Malware Defense? ====
   by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

You're probably aware that Microsoft is working on branding its 
antivirus and antispyware solutions. The company has already 
released an antispyware solution into public beta testing and has 
acquired well-established GeCAD Software and Sybari Software 
antivirus products.

Some industry analysts think that the most logical way to address 
spyware is to evolve antivirus solutions to incorporate that ability 
to prevent spyware from infecting systems in the first place. That's a 
reasonable approach, even though it's another step towards a single 
point of failure, which many security administrators try to avoid.

I read some interesting comments at CNET.com, which published an 
interview with Bill Gates. The article implied that eventually 
antivirus solutions and possibly antispyware solutions will become 
integral parts of Windows. There's more to the story, which isn't 
covered in the CNET.com article. 

I mentioned in an earlier column that Microsoft has published a 
research paper on root kits and has developed a detection tool that 
it hasn't made available to the public. The company released another 
interesting research paper several months ago that offers further 
insight into what other kinds of security-related technology the 
company might offer in the future. 

The second paper, "Can We Contain Internet Worms?," was published in 
August 2004. In it, Microsoft researchers discuss how worms might 
become more readily containable as computers collaborate in a more 
automated manner. The concept, which the researchers have dubbed 
"Vigilante," proposes "a new host centric approach for automatic 
worm containment." 

The summary states that the technology "relies on collaborative worm 
detection at end hosts in the Internet but does not require hosts to 
trust each other. Hosts detect worms by analysing attempts to infect 
applications and broadcast self-certifying alerts (SCAs) when they 
detect a worm. SCAs are automatically generated machine-verifiable 
proofs of vulnerability; they can be independently and inexpensively 
verified by any host. Hosts can use SCAs to generate filters or 
patches that prevent infection." You might think of this technology 
as sort of like a much smarter version of Snort or other intrusion 
detection and prevention systems. 

In essence, the proposal discusses a means of having hosts monitor 
their own activity and automatically contain misbehaving processes. 
When a host detects a worm, it can generate an alert that's 
broadcast to other hosts. The general idea is to decentralize 
detection systems so that worms can't evade detection by evading a 
particular network point. A key to the idea is that an SCA could 
verify worm detection by reproducing its effects. So hosts attain a 
level of trust by doing their own verification, instead of depending 
on third parties to provide signatures to endpoint detection 

Although the paper doesn't mention this specifically, the 
implications are huge. The same principles could be applied to 
viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, and just about any kind of 
application or network behavior. Such a system would become 
vulnerability-centric; instead of having to develop signatures for 
each variation of malware, the system would instead identify the 
vulnerability and be able to act to defend the system against it. 
For example, it could shut down an application, reconfigure a 
firewall, or generate some sort of patch. There is much more to 
learn about the concept in the paper, which you can download in PDF 
format at the Microsoft Web site. 


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==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities
   If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security 
Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security 
vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these 
discoveries at

New Security Patches and Updates from Microsoft
   Microsoft didn't release any new security bulletins in March, but 
the company did update previous bulletins (MS02-005 and MS02-015) to 
include patches for Windows 98 and Windows Me. The company also 
released an updated version of its Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Microsoft Takes Action Against Malware
   Paul Thurrott examines what Microsoft is doing both this year and 
next to deal with spyware, adware, and similar types of electronic 


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==== 3. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll: Do you think Microsoft should offer Internet 
Explorer (IE) 7.0 for Windows 2000 platforms?
   The voting has closed in this Windows IT Pro Security Hot Topic 
nonscientific Instant Poll. Here are the results from the 44 votes.
   - 77% Yes
   - 23% No

New Instant Poll: Do you consider IIS 6.0 to be a secure platform?
   Go to the Security Hot Topic and submit your vote for 
   - Yes
   - No

==== 4. Security Toolkit ==== 

Security Matters Blog 
   by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=53E6:4FB69

Got NT? Better Have Extended Support or a Good Firewall!
   Windows NT systems contain a critical vulnerability for which a 
patch is available--if you have an extended support contract. You can 
also defend your NT systems with a good firewall.

Security Event Log Chat
   Randy Franklin Smith is one of the foremost authorities on the 
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   by John Savill, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=53E2:4FB69 

Q. Should I define a "catch-all" subnet for my Active Directory (AD) 

Find the answer at

Security Forum Featured Thread: Best Network Security Scanner
   A forum participant writes that he's decided to purchase software 
to check his network for open ports, vulnerabilities, permissive user 
rights, open shares, accounts with administrative rights, unapproved 
Instant Messaging (IM) software, and so on. He wonders what the best 
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==== 5. New and Improved ====
   by Renee Munshi, products@private

Fight Phishing
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Bellua Cyber Security Asia 2005 -

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