Redmond is patching Windows 8 but NOT Windows 7, say security bods

New tool checks differences, could lead to 0-day bonanza


Microsoft has left Windows 7 exposed by only applying patches to its newest operating systems.

Researchers found the gaps after they scanned 900 Windows libraries and uncovered a variety of security functions that were updated in Windows 8 but not in 7. They said the shortcoming could lead to the discovery of zero day vulnerabilities.

The missing safe functions were part of Microsoft's dedicated libraries intsafe.h and strsafe.h that help developers combat various attacks.

Researcher Moti Joseph (@gamepe) - formerly of Websense - speculated Microsoft had not applied fixes to Win 7 to save money.

"Why is it that Microsoft inserted a safe function into Windows 8 [but not] Windows 7? The answer is money - Microsoft does not want to waste development time on older operating systems ... and they want people to move to higher operating systems," Joseph said in a presentation at the Troopers14 conference.

Microsoft has been contacted for comment.

Together with malware analyst Marion Marschalek (@pinkflawd), the duo developed a capable diffing (comparison) tool dubbed DiffRay which would compare Windows 8 with 7, and log any safe functions absent in the older platform.

It was "scary simple", Marschalek said, and faster than finding vulnerabilities by hand.

DiffRay GUI and flow chart

Security bods could then probe and pluck those functions to identify vulnerabilities and exploits.

In a demonstration of DiffRay, the researchers found four missing safe functions in Windows 7 that were present in 8.

"If we get one zero-day from this project, it's worth it," Joseph said.

Future work will extend DiffRay's capabilities to find potential vulnerabilities in Windows 8.1, add intelligence to trace input values for functions and incorporate more intelligent signatures used to find potential holes. Duplicates and abundant false positives in the current version would also be ironed out.

The presentation slides were available online. (Here in pdf.) ®

Youtube Video


Keep Reading

Microsoft 365 and Azure outage struck Australia and New Zealand just as business rocked up for a new week

Updated Microsoft mentioned 'potential token issue that may be preventing users from authenticating' and went away after around three hours

Sunday: Australia is shocked UK would consider tracking mobile data to beat pandemic. Monday: Australia to deploy drone intimidation squads

Updated Bloody poms are full of great ideas

Australia to track coronavirus encounters with payment card records

Plan calls to link government data across jurisdictions, even sharing airline records to track outbreaks and people who may be at risk of infection

Epic Games brings its Fortnite fight with Apple to Australia

+Comment Why Australia? Because it’s currently running an inquiry into app store monopolies, that's why

Google won’t let Australia have shiny new toys unless it picks apart pay-for-news plan

Pauses News Showcase rollout while it awaits government capitulation

Japanese probe to land asteroid rock sample in Australia on December 6th

Your order [Ref #RYUGU_REGOLITH | Picked up by probe #HAYABYUSA2] has shipped!

In 2016 Australia's online census failed. Preparations for the 2021 edition have been rated 'partly effective'

Devs can make unauthorised changes, data integrity is a work in progress, security is not there yet ... and there's just nine months to go

Pot, meet kettle: Google claims Australia's pay-for-news plan could see personal data put to nefarious uses

YouTubers advised of opportunity to ‘get involved’ in some kind of push-back

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020