Defeating Vista Security with Drivers

Defeating Vista Security with Drivers
Defeating Vista Security with Drivers

Forwarded with permission from: Security UPDATE 

=== CONTENTS ==================================================
IN FOCUS: Defeating Vista Security with Drivers

   - OEM BIOS Emulator Bypasses Vista Activation
   - Grisoft Offers Free Antirootkit Tool
   - New Storm Worm Outbreak Spreading Fast
   - Recent Security Vulnerabilities

   - Security Matters Blog: 37 Patches on the Way from Oracle
   - FAQ: Microsoft SCE 2007
   - From the Forum: Vote for Your Favorite IPS and Two-Factor 
Authentication Solutions
   - Tell Us About the Products You Love!
   - Share Your Security Tips

   - Encrypt Email According to Policy




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=== IN FOCUS: Defeating Vista Security with Drivers ============   by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

A couple of interesting developments came to light in the last couple 
of weeks, both of which affect Windows Vista security to some extent. 
The first issue centers around Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA). As 
you'll learn when you read the related news story, "OEM BIOS Emulator 
Bypasses Vista Activation," below, code has been released that can fool 
Vista into thinking that it's a genuine copy when it's not. That feat 
is accomplished by using a third-party driver.

While on the surface this doesn't seem like a security problem, it 
actually is. First of all, imagine some small-to-midsized business 
(SMB) trying to save money on a migration to Vista. The company might 
shop around to try to find the best price possible on a new software 
and hardware combination. The company ends up buying from someone who's 
actually selling pirated copies of Vista that have a driver installed 
to fool WGA. 

Such an unscrupulous seller might just as easily have installed 
anything on the machines, including botnets, rootkits, and keyloggers 
that could be undetectable by existing security solutions. These 
processes could be undetectable because a driver can be used to protect 
a process so that for the most part the process can't be inspected by 
another process. And if the process's memory space can't be inspected, 
then any malware inside it can't be detected. 

Two weeks ago, Alex Ionescu released a proof-of-concept tool called D-
Pin Purr 1.0. The tool, which works only on 32-bit versions of Vista, 
uses a driver that can protect or unprotect a process. Ionescu wrote, 
"It is trivial to make a process protected or unprotected by bypassing 
all the code integrity checks and sandbox in which protected processes 
are supposed to run." So basically, Ionescu discovered a way to bypass 
a major security feature of Windows Vista--one that many vendors have 
been complaining about because it prevents their tools from fully 
working to some extent or other. 

If the tool really works as intended (and while I haven't tested it, I 
suspect that it does), then certainly "bad guys" can create a similar 
tool to defend their botnet, rootkit, and keylogger code. 

Sure, elevated privileges might be required to install drivers into 
Vista, which seems to imply that the potential impact is limited. 
However, as history clearly shows, intruders routinely combine 
vulnerabilities and mix in social engineering, so they might eventually 
be able to get a driver installed. 

You can read more about Ionescu's tool in his blog at the URL below, 
where he also provides a download link for D-Pin Purr. 

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=== SECURITY NEWS AND FEATURES ================================
OEM BIOS Emulator Bypasses Vista Activation
   While there are known methods of bypassing Windows Vista activation 
requirements, a new technique turns out to be the easiest and most 
effective so far in defeating Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage 
(WGA) technology. 

Grisoft Offers Free Antirootkit Tool
   Grisoft, widely known for its AVG brand of antivirus solutions, 
announced that it's now offering a free antirootkit tool, AVG Anti-
Rootkit, for Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems. 

New Storm Worm Outbreak Spreading Fast
   Several companies, including Postini, iDefense Labs, and the SANS 
Institute, are tracking a new outbreak of a variant of the Storm worm 
that's producing heavier than normal detection rates around the 

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 

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=== GIVE AND TAKE =============================================
SECURITY MATTERS BLOG: 37 Patches on the Way from Oracle
by Mark Joseph Edwards, 

As part of Oracle's quarterly critical patch update, the company will 
release 37 patches next week. So get ready! 

FAQ: Microsoft SCE 2007
by John Savill, 

Q: What is System Center Essentials (SCE) 2007?

Find the answer at 

FROM THE FORUM: Vote for Your Favorite IPS and Two-Factor 
Authentication Solutions 
   Tell us which security products are working for you. It's not too 
late to vote for the best host-based intrusion prevention system 
and the best two-factor authentication solution 

   What products are you using that save you time or make your workload 
a little lighter? What hot product discoveries have you made that other 
IT pros need to know about? Let the world know about your experiences 
in Windows IT Pro's monthly What's Hot department. If we publish your 
story in What's Hot, we'll send you a Best Buy gift card! Send 
information about your favorite product and how it has helped you to 

   Share your security-related tips, comments, or problems and 
solutions in Security Pro VIP's Reader to Reader column. Email your 
contributions to If we print your submission, 
you'll get $100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.

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