Windows 8 'penetrated' says firm which sells to world's spy agencies

Various spooks now have secret keys to Redmond's kingdom


French security researcher firm Vupen claim to have already developed a reliable windows 8 exploit, just days after the launch of latest edition of Microsoft's flagship operating system.

The sometimes controversial firm, which sells the exploits it develops to Western government agencies and deliberately avoids sharing vulnerability details with vendors, said that the exploit it has cooked up allows it to take over Windows 8 machines running Internet Explorer 10.

"We welcome #Windows 8 with various 0Ds combined to pwn all new Win8/IE10 exploit mitigations,” Vupen’s chief exec Chaouki Bekrar boasted in a Twitter update.

Windows 8 offers improved exploit mitigation technologies including DEP (Data Execution Prevention), ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) while IE10 bundles improved sandboxing. Getting over these extra hurdles is no mean feat and doesn't necessarily mean that exploits and malware from mainstream hackers will flood cyberspace anytime soon.

Vupen doesn't go into details about the security bugs it has identified, logically enough, since the value of the exploits it markets depends on their effectiveness and longevity. Spilling the details on a vulnerability makes it more likely that vendors will come up with patches sooner rather than later, something that works against the "government-grade exploit" side of Vupen's business.

The French security firm previously promised to come up with Windows 8 exploits at the same time as the launch of the operating system. Bekrar told Forbes details of the Windows 8 attack would be supplied to its customers in a carefully worded answer that failed to rule out the use of the exploit as an offensive tool.

"The in-depth technical details of the flaws will be shared with our customers and they can use them to protect their critical infrastructures against potential attacks or for national security purposes," Bekrar said. ®


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