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Security UPDATE--Will Microsoft Update Its Update Release Process?--December 29, 2004

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1. In Focus: Will Microsoft Update Its Update Release Process?

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- The Auditor Security Collection

- Hotmail Drops McAfee for Trend Micro

3. Security Matters Blog

- Santy Claws at Vulnerable Web Sites

- Discovering 44 Security Holes Doesn't Make the Grade

4. Instant Poll

5. Security Toolkit - FAQ

- Security Forum Featured Thread

6. New and Improved

- Protect Private Data


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==== 1. In Focus: Will Microsoft Update Its Update Release Process? ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

In last week's edition of the newsletter we included a news story, "Critical Update for Windows Firewall Flies Under the Radar," that discusses a critical update for Microsoft's Windows Firewall. The critical update was released to the company's Automatic Update, Windows Update, and Download Center 1 day prior to the company's regular monthly release of security bulletins.

Soon after the publication of the news story, a Microsoft spokesperson contacted Windows IT Pro Magazine to clarify why the critical Windows Firewall update wasn't included in the monthly bulletin release. Apparently, the update fell through some cracks in the company's policies and procedures.

Microsoft said that the update was developed and released by the Windows team and not the security team and the Windows team didn't communicate with the security team as well as it could have. Microsoft said that because it wasn't as transparent about the update as it could have been, "we gave the impression that we were trying to slip something in, which was not our intent."

Whether this incident leads to a change in the type of content that will be included in the company's monthly security bulletins, I don't know. In any event, Microsoft is working to update its update release procedures and communication among its teams.

A few expressed their concern that such a critical update wasn't included as a security bulletin. You might think that security bulletins would include all security issues regardless of why such an issue exists. Microsoft said that the update didn't meet the bar for monthly bulletin releases because it doesn't address a "code vulnerability"--rather, it represents a change to the underlying behavior of the firewall. Apparently "code vulnerability" means a coding error or bug rather than bad behavior.

I think most of you will agree that the company could improve its security issue notification process by somehow using it to inform people of all security-related issues regardless of why the issues exist. Microsoft has done a great job so far in improving the security of its software and in communicating with the public about security matters. Even so, there's still room for more improvement--as we've seen with this matter of a critical Windows Firewall update--and I expect Microsoft will take the opportunity to continue with its steady stream of security-related improvements.

What do you think about this matter? Let us know by answering the poll listed in this edition of the newsletter.

Until next time have a great week.


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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

The Auditor Security Collection

Many of us have discovered our favorite tools by word of mouth or while looking for the solution to a particular problem. But as you know, finding a great tool is only half the battle. Why not use a ready-made toolkit? One such kit is the free Auditor security collection, a set of security tools and utilities organized into the following categories: Footprinting, Scanning, Analyzing, Spoofing, Bluetooth, Wireless, Bruteforce, and Password cracker.

Hotmail Drops McAfee for Trend Micro

Microsoft dropped McAfee virus protection technologies from its Hotmail Web-based email service and replaced it with a solution from Trend Micro. With 187 million active users, Hotmail is a huge coup for Trend Micro. Neither Microsoft nor McAfee has issued an explanation for the change. Terms of the deal with Trend Micro have not been revealed.


==== Announcements ====

(from Windows IT Pro and its partners)

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==== 3. Security Matters Blog ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

Check out these recent entries in the Security Matters blog:

Santy Claws at Vulnerable Web Sites

Dashing through the holes, a new worm designed as play, through the shields it goes, hacking all the way... Read the rest of the jingle in this blog item on our Web site.

Discovering 44 Security Holes Doesn't Make the Grade

What if you were taking a computer science course and a primary requirement is that you must discover 10 new security holes or you won't get a passing grade. Could you do it? Hard to say, right?

==== 4. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll:

Are Instant Messaging (IM) or peer-to-peer (P2P) threats a problem on your network?

The voting has closed in this Windows IT Pro Security Hot Topic nonscientific Instant Poll. Here are the results from the 30 votes.

17% - Yes, both are

7% - Yes, IM threats are

20% - Yes, P2P threats are

57% - No

(Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding.)

New Instant Poll:

Do you think Microsoft should improve its security alerting process?

- Yes, it should send alerts about all security updates

- No, the process works fine for me the way it is

Go to the Security Hot Topic and submit your vote

==== 5. Security Toolkit ====


by John Savill,

Q. After I upgraded from Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2003, I received an error about the Enterprise Domain Controllers group's access to certain Group Policy Objects (GPOs) in Group Policy Management Console (GPMC). What's causing this error?

Find the answer at

Internet Connection Firewall Configuration Problems

(One message in this thread)

A reader writes that he's using Windows Server 2003 with McAfee Antivirus, and the system also runs Microsoft IIS 6.0. He has tried to implement the Internet Connection Firewall to allow only ports 80 and 3389 for remote desktop use. He said the configuration works fine initially but after 5 to 10 minutes (or a few remote login attempts) some sort of problems arises in which the server won't allow remote logins. IIS continues to respond fine. Can anyone help him determine what the problem is? Join the discussion at:


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==== 6. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

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Editor's note: Share Your Security Discoveries and Get $100

Share your security-related discoveries, comments, or problems and solutions in the Security Administrator print newsletter's Reader to Reader column. Email your contributions (500 words or less) to [email protected] If we print your submission, you'll get $100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.


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