Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
-- Matthew 3:2
Security specialist Steve Gibson has created quite a fracas with his increasingly vocal opposition to the raw-socket connectivity planned for Windows-XP, and upon which he bases predictions of impending chaos for the entire Internet, so he's decided to exploit the very threat he claims will make the Internet permanently unstable.
The raw sockets which have Gibson so steamed enable a machine to send or capture data independent of the operating system -- quite handy if you're a software developer or an advanced hobbyist. And while it's true that this also enhances the packet-flooding capabilities of a Windows machine by making it easy to spoof packets, it's also true that this function is already included in most other operating systems, and can be added to an existing Win-9x, 'ME, or '2K machine quite easily with a library called WinPcap.
All right, we'll allow that there'll be a few s'kiddies who might prefer to use their Win-XP boxes for such purposes. But they can already do so simply by installing Linux and doing a bit of reading.
There will also be more Windows clients available for malicious misuse as 'XP grows in popularity; but one can already do heaps of packeting from Windows machines with SubSeven, and even launch the attack in bulk from IRC.
True, the boxes will eventually be found because their IPs are traceable, and admins will contact the owners and let them know they're infected -- but only long after the damage is done. Raw sockets in 'XP only marginally improve the situation for a malicious party. We really don't see an immense growth in packeting on the horizon.
Gibson, on the other hand, tells it like a loner in the desert, living, we would imagine, on locusts and wild honey for a bit too long a time.
After being packeted into submission last month by a thirteen-year-old computer enthusiast called "Wicked", he's become obsessed with the mission of dissuading Microsoft from outfitting 'XP with the same capabilities as most of its competitors.
He's written thousands of words on his Web site, denouncing Microsoft for putting something like real power into a consumer operating system. He's written memos to the company; he's warned all his site's visitors; but he's still not satisfied. The "XP Christmas of Death" is coming, he warns, immediately after which all the little s'kiddies will gleefully baptize us with fire.
According to Gibson's paranoid delusions, everyone with a computer is a potential criminal, and the only reason the entire Net population hasn't yet exploded in some mass orgy of evil is because Microsoft has thus far refrained from unleashing the uncontrollable power of the raw socket.
He'll show the bastards
Unfortunately, not enough of the right people are listening to him with the proper degree of attentiveness. So he's decided to show the bastards: Gibson is developing a free tool which he calls 'Spoofarino'.
"We need a tool to hold ISPs accountable and publicly demonstrate individual ISP irresponsibility," Gibson says.
"Given the universal reluctance they have demonstrated so far, I believe that only active public scrutiny will bring about the changes required to insure [sic] a reliable and secure future for the Internet."
From that we infer that Spoofarino will enable Netizens to test whether or not their ISP allows them to send spoofed packets to Gibson's site. We imagine that any ISP which fails to filter outbound spoofed packets will be identified for a solid public shaming.
It sounds like a tool with which one could generate raw packets, though probably in a controlled manner. But if that's the case, it would lay much of the ground work for an EZ malicious version leveraging the very threat Gibson is decrying.
"The threat represented by Microsoft's forthcoming Windows-XP operating system, with its confirmed ability to easily generate malicious Internet traffic -- for NO good reason -- can not be overstated," he warns.
"The proper executives within Microsoft MUST be reached with this message so that those plans can be reviewed in light of the potential for their system's massive abuse of the inherently trusting Internet."
And so Steve Gibson is going to show us all. ®