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Security experts say poor driver design leaves doors wide open

Two security researchers from Black Hat this week revealed a method in which a MacBook can be broken into and taken control of. In fact, the intrusion method is at such a low level that even firewalls and anti-virus applications can't help. Based on flaws in wireless network driver design, Apple's line of MacBooks -- and MacBook Pros -- allows an attacker to remotely bypass the security of the laptop and the operating system.

Jon Ellch and David Maynor from Black Hat say that drivers for Apple's notebooks are developed not in house, but outside using contracted development companies. Ellch says that often times, these development people are under so much pressure from higher management to get working drivers so that companies can rush our products to market. Under circumstances like this, drivers for devices such as wireless network processors enter "the wild" in an untested state.

However, Mayner said that "we're not picking specifically on Macs here, but if you watch those 'Get a Mac' commercials enough, it eventually makes you want to stab one of those users in the eye with a lit cigarette or something." Mayner cites that many of Apple's commercials claim that Macs don't suffer from the same security vulnerabilities that PCs do but in fact, they do.

The team at Black Hat demonstrated that they could circumvent the Wi-Fi security and OS level security in a MacBook and within just 60 seconds, were able to take complete control of the machine. Black Hat demonstrated the technique through a pre-recorded video to prevent anyone from intercepting the wireless network traffic to deconstruct the attack and release it elsewhere. Black Hat said that it has been in contact with both Apple and Microsoft, because the vulnerability exists on both sides.



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NT/XP Security
By splines on 8/6/2006 10:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with previous posters about the true security benefits of Windows XP in a corporate environment. A majority of businesses I've worked with have fairly high security for end-users in the cubes, mostly using XP and a networking layer like NDS.

XP can be secure, but only if you're willing to forego root access (which, oddly enough, most workstation users don't mind simply because they don't understand it) and making sure your workstations are locked down as far as possible. This is what XP was designed for in a corporate environment, and it works damn well.

The problem, in my opinion, is the vast majority of home users who have their accounts set to root without even knowing it. That new HP desktop they get is probably going to be set up for an admin account as default - HP support doesn't want thousands of angry customers demanding to know who this "System Administrator" they need to "contact" is.

The schism between OS X users and Windows users is pretty much moot when you consider most PC users tend to be doing more digging around to get stuff working (not necessarily the user themselves, but via a proxy with installed programs and the like). Such digging requires root access, and if the benefits outway the risks then a PC user is going to go for it. Apple users, by and large, have rather less need for direct access to the OS.

The aim of Windows security is not to grant freedoms - in fact it's the exact opposite. If properly configured and managed, Windows treats pretty much everybody like a complete moron and gives them very little rope with which to hang themselves. And for someone who has to deal with moronic end-users on a daily basis, this is a blessing.

On the linux front, I'm a fan of Ubuntu's sudo system, but it can be intrusive; on a productivity level it can slow things down some.




RE: NT/XP Security
By Pirks on 8/7/2006 2:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That new HP desktop they get is probably going to be set up for an admin account as default - HP support doesn't want thousands of angry customers demanding to know who this "System Administrator" they need to "contact" is.
Hey, very nice point!

Now, a little tricky question for you.

What HP support will do with thousands of angry consumers demanding to know what this Vista Administrator password is, that Vista keeps asking them about every time they install stuff or change configuration? Do you think this UAP thing will get Vista users mad and calling HP/Dell/etc support around o'clock and yelling at them? 'Cause Vista now WILL NOT let users do stuff without entering admin password, so how do you think HP support would cope with THAT?


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings











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