(The Hosting News) – Today at the Black Hat USA 2010 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced that it will extend its Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) to include vulnerability information sharing from Adobe Systems Inc. Microsoft also discussed the new policy of coordinated vulnerability disclosure — a reframing of responsible disclosure — and introduced new tools and guidance that will improve online security for customers.
Extending Microsoft Active Protections Program in Collaboration With Adobe Systems
Launched in October 2008 by the Microsoft Security Response Center, MAPP is a unique collaborative effort that facilitates advanced information sharing on Microsoft product vulnerabilities with security software providers. In fall 2010, Adobe will join Microsoft and share its vulnerability information with the 65 global MAPP members, offering advanced protections to hundreds of millions of people. Through programs like MAPP, Microsoft is helping protect customers from the threats of today and tomorrow.
“Adobe products are relied on by individuals and organizations worldwide. Given the relative ubiquity and cross-platform reach of many of our products, as well as the continued shifts in the threat landscape, Adobe has attracted increasing attention from attackers,” said Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy at Adobe. “We are committed to our customers’ security at every level and are excited to leverage MAPP as an important part of our overall product security initiative. MAPP is a great example of a tried and proven model giving an upper hand to a network of global defenders who all rally behind a shared purpose — protecting our mutual customers.”
“Microsoft acknowledges that the constantly changing threat landscape requires a new approach to security — collaboration and shared responsibility are key as past individual efforts are no longer enough,” said Mike Reavey, director of the Microsoft Security Response Center at Microsoft. “We’re excited about extending the benefits of MAPP to Adobe users as we’ve seen clear evidence of its impact in advancing customer protections. We continue to encourage the collective industry — from security researchers and vendors to customers— to recognize the responsibility we all share in fortifying the broader computing ecosystem against online crime.”
Shift to Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure
In recognition of the endless debate between responsible disclosure and full disclosure proponents and the debate’s ability to detract from productive industry collaboration and customer defense, Microsoft announced it will move to a new practice and philosophy of coordinated vulnerability disclosure.
Definition of coordinated vulnerability disclosure. Microsoft believes coordinated vulnerability disclosure is when newly discovered vulnerabilities in hardware, software and services are disclosed directly to the vendors of the affected product, to a CERT-CC or other coordinator who will report to the vendor privately, or to a private service that will likewise report to the vendor privately. The finder allows the vendor an opportunity to diagnose and offer fully tested updates, workarounds or other corrective measures before detailed vulnerability or exploit information is shared publicly. If attacks are underway in the wild, earlier public vulnerability details disclosure can occur with both the finder and vendor working together as closely as possible to provide consistent messaging and guidance to customers to protect themselves.
Additional details on coordinated vulnerability disclosure can be found at http://blogs.technet.com/b/ecostrat/archive/2010/07/22/coordinated-vulnerability-disclosure-bringing-balance-to-the-force.aspx.
Microsoft calls on the broader community — from security researchers to vendors — to move to coordinated vulnerability disclosure. The need for coordination and shared responsibility has never been greater, as the computing ecosystem faces an unprecedented level of threat from the criminal element. To overcome that element, we must work together to improve the security of the entire ecosystem — and, as always, making customer protection our highest priority.
New Tools and Guidance
Microsoft also today released several resources that will help customers make informed decisions and manage risk. These releases demonstrate the company’s ongoing efforts to improve customer experience by developing and sharing guidance and solutions. Microsoft urges organizations to leverage this freely available guidance to protect against threats and improve their security processes.
Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET). EMET is a free tool that brings newer security mitigations to older Microsoft platforms and applications, both third-party and line of business applications. The tool specifically helps block targeted attacks against unfixed vulnerabilities. The tool will be available in August. Those interested can visit http://ecn.channel9.msdn.com/o9/edge/9900/29900/emetoverview72010_edge.wmv to watch an instructional video.
Microsoft vulnerability research (MSVR) paper. The MSVR was launched to share the lessons Microsoft has learned about building more secure software and responding to vulnerabilities in third-party products built on the company’s platform. Since its launch in 2008, the MSVR has worked with more than 30 vendors, helping improve both Microsoft’s software, as well as third-party products, ultimately keeping more people safe online. A more detailed account on how the MSVR has improved the overall security of Microsoft and third-party products can be downloaded at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9738193.
A Report: Building a Safer, More Trusted Internet Through Information Sharing. In August 2008, Microsoft launched three security-related programs designed to collectively share more information with partners and customers. As outlined in this report, the three programs — MAPP, the Microsoft Exploitability Index and the MSVR — have evolved over the past two years, creating a safer online environment for people around the world. For example:
Sourcefire Inc. reported that in the race between exploit and protection, MAPP has helped to reduce the risk of attack in some cases by more than 75 percent.
According to iDefense Labs, the Microsoft Exploitability Index has helped reduce risk by providing system administrators with the information they need to prioritize security updates.
Since 2009, the MSVR program has identified 35 different software vulnerabilities affecting a total of 19 vendors. To date, 45 percent of those vulnerabilities have been resolved, helping better secure Microsoft’s platform and the larger computing environment.
The full report on the progress of these three programs can be viewed at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9738546.
Given the increasing criminality of the threat landscape, it’s clear that a new approach to security is required. Microsoft encourages a shared sense of responsibility across the ecosystem as no one company, individual or technology can solve today’s complex security challenges. As such, Microsoft calls on the industry to continue to collaborate and coordinate to combat online threats and create a safer, more trusted Internet.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.