[FSFE PR][EN] Windows 7 to hit consumers with known security problem

Free Software Foundation Europe press at fsfeurope.org
Mon Oct 19 13:41:23 CEST 2009

= Windows 7 to hit consumers with known security problem =

[Permanent URL: http://www.fsfe.org/news/2009/news-20091019-01.en.html]

19 October 2009, 13:30 CEST, Berlin, Germany

  Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7, is currently shipping
  with a potentially serious defect. Ahead of the product's global
  launch on Thursday, Germany's federal IT security agency (BSI) has
  issued a warning [1] about a high-risk vulnerability in the SMB2
  protocol. This can be exploited over the network to shut down a
  computer with a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

This incident illustrates how proprietary software often poses a
security risk. "Only Microsoft can fix the problem. But they have
apparently closed their eyes to this vulnerability for a long time,
hoping that it wouldn't spoil the retail launch of Windows 7 this
Thursday," says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software
Foundation Europe (FSFE).

Following responsible disclosure practices, the BSI has not published
details in its announcement (English translation below) from October 6.
While it is generally a good strategy to give vendors time to repair
vulnerabilities before announcing them publicly, in this case the BSI
should consider publishing the full details of the problem to put more
pressure on Microsoft. The agency says that the security hole affects
Windows 7 and Windows Vista in both their 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as
well as Windows Server 2008. This vulnerability is different from an
earlier SMB2 issue [2] for which Microsoft published the patch MS09-050
in September.

FSFE's Gerloff explains: "Microsoft's software locks its users in, so
they have to stay even if the company knowingly exposes them to a
security risk like this. With Free Software like GNU/Linux - software
that you can study, share and improve - several independent entities can
fix the problem. Consumers should not support Microsoft's negligent
behaviour by buying its products. Free Software offers an alternative,
and is available from many independent vendors."

Microsoft has not yet responded to the BSI's warning. There is no
indication that the company will manage to fix the gaping hole in its
flagship operating system before the global launch of Windows 7 this
Thursday. The vulnerability remains open even after Microsoft's October
patch day.

The company's security practices have long been a cause for concern. In
just one recent incident [3], Microsoft knew about another vulnerability
in SMB2 since July 2009. While it did fix the problem in the final
version of Windows 7 in early August, it did nothing to repair the same
problem in Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 until an independent
security researcher went public about the issue. German IT news site
Heise speculates that the issue ended up on a Microsoft-internal list of
low-priority bugs which the company tries to fix silently, in order to
avoid negative publicity.

[1] https://www.cert-bund.de/advisoryshort/CB-K09-0315%20UPDATE%201
[2] http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/975497.mspx
[3] http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Microsoft-has-known-of-the-SMB2-hole-for-some-time-832175.html

== Translation of the BSI's security advisory: ==

  Threat level: "4 high risk" (out of 1-5, with 5 being "very high").
  Title:  Microsoft Windows SMB2-Protocol: Another vulnerability allows denial
    of service (Windows Vista and Windows 7 vulnerable).
  Date:  2009-10-06
  Software:  Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows 7 x64 Edition, Microsoft
    Windows Vista / SP1 / SP2, Microsoft Windows Vista x64 Edition / SP1 / SP2,
    Microsoft Windows Server 2008
  Platform:  Windows
  Effect:  Denial-of-Service
  Remoteexploitable:  Yes
  Risk:  high
  Reference:   internal research

Server Message Block (SMB) is a protocol which enables shared access to
printers and files. SMB2 is a new version of this protocol, which was
introduced with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and which is also
available on Windows 7. Current implementations of SMB2 are affected by
this vulnerability. This is a new vulnerability, not the one described
in Microsoft Security Advisory 975497. The listed operating systems can
therefore still be successfully attacked even after installation of the
updates of Microsoft's October patchday (MS09-050). 

Currently there is no update or patch available from the vendor. The
only recommended actions are to be aware of and track the vulnerability.
As a workaround it can only be recommended to limit access to SMB2
servers to trusted systems by firewalls, or to disable the SMB2 service.

== About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
  the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  modify and copy.  Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these
  issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving
  people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central
  issues of the FSFE.


== Contact ==

  Karsten Gerloff
  Free Software Foundation Europe
  e-mail: press at fsfeurope.org
  mobile: +49-176-96904298

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