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From: nion at (Nico Golde)
Subject: Old school applications on the Internet (was Anti-MS drivel)

Hallo Bill,

* Bill Royds <> [2004-01-21 13:06]:
>  What you describe is actually one of the reasons for some of the flaws in
> MS software. It was built with the assumption that the only machines on the
> network that it would communicate with were other MS boxes. The network was
> a LAN only ( why it was called LAN Manager). The flaw that allowed
> Msblaster/Nachia last summer was one of these things. The software was
> written assuming the an RPC caller process would "play nice" and never send
> an invalid NETBIOS name for any machine. MS written software never did. So
> the called server never checked on name size since there was no need to and
> the caller always checked :-). When a worm ignored these agreements, we got
> MSBlaster. Malware does not "play nice". It does not even play badly
> accidentally. It deliberately tries to do damage. So the stakes for writing
> software are much much higher than they were when DOS/Windows was originally
> written. Windows 95 was written with the assumption that it would only be
> used in a LAN. Bill G's belated discovery of the Internet (and the bolt-on
> TCP/IP stack for Windows 95) has led to much of our security nightmare.
> Windows 9x was never designed for an open network and the requirement to
> have Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 compatible with the older versions has
> prevented these from truly being Internet aware at the core.
>  Most old school software and its QA was attempting to ensure that the
> software produced correct results from valid input. But making a program
> work is the easy part. The hard part is making it NOT work in a secure
> manner. That is, when faced with invalid input, it should not process it as
> if it were valid input. That is what a true security researcher does. He/She
> finds what input is accepted by a program when it shouldn't and determines
> what are the consequences of that input. True QA and testing
> compartmentalizes all possible input so that one can be assured that invalid
> input will be safely rejected or at least sanitized. One can never assume
> that the arguments to any routine are valid, If they ever come from
> "outside" they need to be treated as tainted.
>    In a old batch mainframe environment, rejecting bad input often just
> means correct the data and try over. In an online continuous transaction
> processing  environment (which Internet servers are), one can't often just
> reject the bad input. One has to unravel all the good input that preceded it
> and that is dependent on the bad input to ensure that the internal state of
> your processor is still valid (the database is not corrupted, for instance).
> This means that QA is immensely harder than when these systems were written.
>    But people are attaching these old systems to the modern Internet without
> taking these differences into account. A system that kept account
> information unencrypted since it was only going to travel over a closed LAN,
> is not going to cut being connected to a web server that connects to the
> open Internet. There is no such thing as a LAN anymore. Once you allow your
> users to connect to the Internet, all the old assumptions are invalid. You
> really should start over gain and redesign your applications with the new
> requirements. 

doest your keyboard has got an enter key?
regards nico

Nico Golde
public key available on:
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