back to article Build malware protection into operating systems

Malware protection needs to be built into operating systems rather than bolted on as an afterthought if the industry stands any chance of dealing with the evolving threat of targeted attacks, according to a senior security researcher. Joanna Rutkowska, chief exec of Invisible Things Lab, who is best known for her research on …

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A Touch of the Blarney.......

Joanna,

It would be simplest with IT to Create an Artificial Reality Game for Global Players to Input with Text Suggestions/Instructions, Routed through CyberSpace to HyperRadioProActive EMail Sorting Offices for Positively Reinforcing FeedBack to Sources.

Would a Real Live Political Game Created with Havok render AI Virtual Order..... for All to See and Comment On to Build the Future with Pure Imagination ....... Virtualised for Real?

Celtic Magic ......... in One of Merlin, the MetaPysician's Spells.

Hmmm ...... cc InvestNorthernIreland re Public Funding Opportunity and IT Majoring, Lead Hub ....... AI Holywood 2 Hollywood XXXXChange.

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Anonymous Coward

"the difficulty is that operating systems are too complex"

No, the difficulty is that too many businesses are dependent for their survival on the continued market presence of a virus-prone, insecure by design, monopolistic OS. (For the avoidance of doubt, I mean Windows).

There are plenty of other OSes around which are secure by design, and have been for years. But they're not likely to catch on (yet) in volume because they'd put most of the "security experts" and their hangers-on out of business, and (minor detail) typically they don't run the volume apps that people think they want. So where's the motivation for change?

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Anonymous Coward

Years away from this sort of solution

In all honesty Microsoft who has been making OS for all these years can not tackle this basic issue ? if they were capable they would have had a solution until now..

Its time to go back to the drawing board for the developers of microhard.

I think they be better off making either a readonly version of windows or a virtual image of itself so it wuold never be running the live version.

Either way I can see more people moving away from windows

Windows will soon be out the window.

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Anonymous Coward

Unless you're running *nix...

In which case you just need to build the latest kernel.

I'll be quite content to watch the crooks (malware writers and MS alike) destroy each other.

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At the commenters

If you're running a platform that calls it's update package 'yum' and kernel recompiles aren't out of the equasion when adding new drivers - then yeah you're pretty safe.

Mainly cause you KNOW what to run and what not.

People seem to forget that malware and viruses are more often than not user installed. A viruses is just an application that does something malicious. Most users have to run with admin rights, as what home user is happy running one set of credentials let alone two.

There's not been a huge number of worms that attack Windows for a long time. Nearly all viruses are installed from a user double clicking an email attachment. How can any platform stop this?

As such, why would any platform inherently prevent viruses and spyware from being installed? When a user has admin/root privillages and doesn't know their BIOS from their Bluetooth?

Get over the Microsoft bashing - real world is that *nix has a pathetic share of the desktop, and spouting 'My OS is better than yours' isn't going to change it. We need to addresses the problem, not move the goal posts.

At least Vista is trying to make things better. Windows Defender and UAC are two big things that this INDEPENDANT report shows MS are doing right. Put grandman or 13 year old son on Ubuntu and if you write some malware for that plaform then Windows will have a better chance of staving it off the Windows based virus compared to the Ubuntu targeted one.

Home users need to understand the need for security, and the requirements not to run with admin rights and that what they see isn't always what they get.

Once this is sorted out then Windows will be more secure, thus the internet as a whole.

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@Steven Hewitt

Your arguments show your ignorance.

Every time you browse the web, download your email, heck, these days, record a TV show on a PVR, play a DVD, make a photocopy, listen to an MP3 player, make a phone call, even connect to broadband via router......You are probably using using Unix software, it is all around you.

As for desktops, I support a mixed network, with Windows, OSX and Linux desktops and servers.

The number of Linux boxes on my network is slowly increasing.

I also see them more and more frequently in the field when doing customer support .

My wife uses Linux, so does my 8 year old grandson.

It is more secure than Windows by design, a user cannot install malware simply by clicking an email link. It is also much harder for a user to break it.

My wife uses Linux, so does my 8 year old grandson.

The problem with Windows is that it needs rewriting from the ground up, and MS just keep patching it.

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@ amanfromMars

Were you only temporarily banned? It's been a while since I've seen one of your indecipherable comments and I was thinking (maybe even hoping a little?) you were banned permanently.

Back on topic though.... Jeez, weren't you even paying attention to the article? The answer isn't to make some magic virtual reality, the answer is to secure the OS kernel. If MS were to make your magic virtual reality and still made it bug-riddled with security made of cheesecloth, would that lessen the impact of viruses? I think not! And please, stop replacing every other word in a sentence with buzzwords.

Sorry, sorry, I know I'm feeding the trolls...

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@Steven Hewitt

Ah yes, the "eat shit 50 trillion flies can't be wrong" argument.

Sure MS had a huge marketshare but that has not been achieved trhough providing great software.

Like Leo Maxwell, we run a Linux household with two dual boots for running iTunes and a few shoot-em-ups and such.

However, Linux certainly is not all champers and roses.

If you're emailing, web surfing and writing a few docs, then Linux is perfectly easy to use.

If you're using wierd hardware (dual head monitors, scanners, tablets etc), then Linux is not very user friendly. Recompiling kernels, hacking X config files etc is certianly more than mom & pop can do without a tame geek on-hand. To get proper desktop uptake needs effort to make all these things easier to do.

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What's an O/S Supposed to do ?

An O/S is supposed to control access to things like processor, memory & I/O. It is also supposed to (In a "modern" O/S like *nix, Windoze, etc) to isolate applications from each other, and to protect the O/S (and hence the underlying hardware) from unauthorised access by user space programs.

If an O/S cannot achieve these basic things then it has some fundamental problems. Bolt ons to the O/S to stop software which can exploit these weaknesses are too little too late. Here's a bit of an analogy (Which I'm sure someone will flame me for): You want to protect your house. Do you put in strong doors and windows with strong locks, or some cheap stuff and buy a guard dog ?

Anti-root kit (and SOME A/V) protection is fixing the symptoms of the problem (unsecure O/S) rather than the real problem.

With modern complex userspace software, some anti-virus is likely to be needed to prevent things like macro viruses, etc. But these should NOT be able infect the kernel. Heck, IF the O/S is setup properly, a user-space virus should not be able to infect anyone else's files on the machine.

IMHO, Windows from two problems:

1) It blurs the line between supervisor mode and user mode. This is done to make computers more easy to use. However, all these little chinks soon add-up to big security problems. (Why should a user be able to install files into the O/S binary directories ?)

2) Microsoft (or any company making a consumer O/S) will make more money from selling a new version of their O/S that has more pretty functions, than has good security. Look at the recent spate of 3D desktops.

Security and useability are, at best, uneasy bedfellows. At worst, they are an oxymoron.

With Windows, MS decided to focus on the usability. Other O/Ss tend to lean more towards the security.

Unfortunately, MS has such a large market share of the desktop, that it is very hard for anyone else to break into that market space.

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Even the borged can be right - once in a while

Amid all the brainwashed drivel, there is one thing right in what Steven said : users click on attachments all too readily and without paying the slightest attention to where it came from or why it was sent.

I don't care what platform you are on, this is a basic problem and there will always be someone to find a way to take advantage of it.

For the rest, I'm sorry Steven, but UAC is a joke (ceaseless nagging is NOT security) and Windows Defender is an insult. Besides, even if you could get ALL European and North American users to update their platform correctly (with patches that don't break the OS), you're still left with all the Chinese users, most of whom are running on pirate copies that MS does not update anyway and don't even know what "patch" or "update" mean.

It's going to take generations to sort this out, and Vista is not doing anything to help.

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@Charles Manning

As much as it pains me to say this (Being a *nix afficianado for many, many years) MS currently wins hands down in the area of more complex desktop O/S setups. Until third-parties start paying real attention to *nix, we're not going to get there. Maybe the recent release of specs by ATi/AMD will help out here...

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Future Knowledge ....... RTFM?

"Were you only temporarily banned? It's been a while since I've seen one of your indecipherable comments and I was thinking (maybe even hoping a little?) you were banned permanently."

I must have been busy talking to others who can think of the Virtual Reality that is the Creation in CyberSpace of the Command and Control of Computers and Communications.

I trust that comment is not beyond comprehension for it is IT and an AI dDevelopment as Transparent and Specific as I can make IT. As you can Imagine, the Self-Actualising InfraStructure Model in Support of ITs Claim is a much more Simply Complex series of Memoranda of Understanding with Players who would all wish to remain Cloaked and Virtually Exclusive in the Absence of Anonymity..... to remain Free to Work, Rest and Play at their Own Convenience rather than rendered a mouth piece paying lip service to another System of Operations.

It is time well spent given the Sensitivity which some may have to the Premise of C42 Quantum Control Systems in AI NeReal World Order Programming.

Heavy MetaData Processing kept light hearted and adequately Stealthy within ITs Flights of Fancy and SurReal Pragmatism in Shared Cultural Heritages.

For example, would it be fair to suppose that a Ping Dynasty is in the Ascendant

PS... that would be indecipherable to you, Michael.

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Anonymous Coward

"windows needs rewriting from the ground up"

Dave Cutler and his mates already did that, based on his efforts prior to joining Microsoft. If NT3.1 had been left alone to go Dave's way, it would initially have looked like Windows did at the time (early 90s, WfWg 3.11?) whilst being much more stable than WfWg and arguably much more secure. (ref: e.g. Helen Custer's book, Inside Windows NT)

Unfortunately, although systems built for security and stability are really quite good for productivity, they are not good for mass-market reviews where the journos see the new improved NT as disastrous because it's "10% slower running Word". The fact that NT could actually handle far more work in a day because it wasn't constantly crashing was lost on the marketeers. And there was also the small matter of compatibility with installed base applications. So, back in the early 90s, Bill dictated that security and stability were to be sacrificed in favour of performance and compatibility, and that is arguably still the case today with Vista, 15 years later.

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He, who must be obeyed..... :-)

"So, back in the early 90s, Bill dictated that security and stability were to be sacrificed in favour of performance and compatibility, and that is arguably still the case today with Vista, 15 years later."

A bum's rush of a decision, that one, anonymous.

With the former you definitely get the latter but with the latter you do not necessarily get the former.

But heck, it is easy fixed with a new diktat.

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it's the economics

Similar to my comments on the "M$ OOXML as a standard" story / thread: M$ have a "perverse economic incentive" (thanks to Bruce Schneier for that piece of terminology) NOT to think / design their products 'security first' and to do their utmost to impose their exploitable wares on the World.

The entire M$ ethos is to sell their wares based not on their technical merit, rather on their ease-of-use; to the vast majority of end users, security is (in their ignorance) uttterly irrelevant. The only mechanism that will be effective is when more people LOSE MONEY (from exploits arising from by using M$ products) and *then* we can EDUCATE them. Lessons learned from bitter experience tend to stick. Once there is a market place feeling that the M$ way is not the safe way, then - only then! - will consumers vote with their wallets.

In the interim, we need to INFORM people of the risks out there on t'internet and INVITE them to consider at least applying appropriate (prevention) bolt-ons.

Also, meanwhile, the original article presented the views of a researcher that kernels should be developed with DETECTION built-in; I am not sure that there is any merchant market OS that is developing this way. Information of my ignorance is invited!

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@Stephen Hewitt

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it a significant difference between Windows and the more popular Linux distros is that the Linux distro simply doesn't allow the users _ever_ to log in as root. They can adopt root-equivalence temporarily when they need to do something that requires that level of access (installing a new app, for example) and, to do so, they are required to enter their password.

It's therefore considerably trickier to sneak a secret something past *nix users, since by default they don't have the ability to install anything. If they click on something that claims to be a photo of their grandkids, say, and it prompts them to enter their password then alarm bells are sure to chime. If not by common sense, then at least by the most basic of training or instruction.

Windows, on the contrary, seems to have something of a "come one, come all" approach to administrator rights with the use of one of any number of exploits, many of which can be triggered from visiting the wrong website or reading the wrong email. _Reading_ the wrong _email_, in the name of all that is holy and good...

Or am I wrong?

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Root

Well, yes and no. There are two ways to access root. One is for temporary root privileges for specific commands on a time-limited basis. The other is effectively a root shell and has full system privileges.

Logging in as root is not encouraged in Linux, but it depends on the distro. Some, like Ubuntu steers the user away from root right from the install. Others, like Debian set up a root account and a user account upon install and won't let the user log in as root (at least through the xserver). SUse allows both forms of logins.

In all of the distros, gaining root is possible if one knows the password and can spoof its way past iptables. Or if they have physical access to the pc.

And while it always comes down to the end users and how responsible they want to be, it certainly helps if that extra step needs to be taken.

*nix was always multi-user and therefore protections had to be built into the system right from the start. If a thousand people had access to a mainframe, there would have been a lot of namespace conflicts, not to mention people stepping on other peoples' apps and intellectual property.

An excellent way for MS to improve its security would be to implement a keyboard passphrase when things are being installed and get away from that reflexive double-clicking. Unless, of course, it is marketing strategy.

IThink someone has been spending too much time on the intergalactic putting greens.

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