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Friday, 14 June 2019 09:44

Security pros trade barbs over Microsoft bug disclosure

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Security pros trade barbs over Microsoft bug disclosure Pixabay

Well-known Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy has taken a swipe at security industry veteran Richard Bejtlich, after the latter chided him for releasing details about a vulnerability in Microsoft software after the 90-day period normally given for patching expired.

Bejtlich, currently the principal security strategist at Corelight, was formerly with FireEye, transitioning from Mandiant when FireEye bought the company in 2013. In the past, Microsoft and Google have exposed bugs in each other's software, seemingly resorting to tit-for-tat on occasion.

Ormandy said on 12 June, that he was posting details of a bug in SymCrypt, the core library that handles all cryptography on Windows. "It's a DoS, but this means basically anything that does crypto in Windows can be deadlocked (s/mime, authenticode, ipsec, iis, everything). Microsoft committed to fixing it in 90 days, then didn't," he said in tweet.

And in a second tweet, he said the issue was now public as it was day 91. "I consider this relatively low severity, but you could take down an entire Windows fleet relatively easily, so it's worth being aware of," he added.

Bejtlich shot back: "Man, this is petty. The Microsoft of 2019 is not the Microsoft of 1999 or even 2009. You don't need to prompt them with this stunt. MS said they would get the patch delivered in the July update because they wanted improved testing. Microsoft is not the problem in this scenario."

Back came Ormandy's retort: "Those of us actually on the frontlines of vulnerability research deal with something a little different. The Microsoft you're so enamoured with didn't just appear, we had to fight for it. What's petty is hurling insults without even putting in some effort to understand context."

The matter could have ended there but Bejtlich apparently was not prepared to let it go. "I'm not on the frontlines of vuln research but I care about people who have to deal with the mess you disclosed, needlessly early in my opinion," he said. "It's not like Microsoft was ignoring or disrespecting you. Seriously, I expected better from someone who's been around as long as you."

Ormandy, seemingly someone who likes to get the last word, had more ammunition left. "Vulnerability disclosure is a vast and nuanced field, that you are clearly not familiar with," he tweeted. "Should I start techsplaining your field to you? I know nothing about it, but I can't wait to second guess all the decisions you've made and explain how petty you are. Do better Richard."

And, for good measure, he linked back to a 2015 post in which he had exposed details of a vulnerability in a FireEye product. "That's funny, because I have to deal with the mess that people like you ship to customers," Ormandy wrote. "Amateurish code like FireEye with trivial vulnerabilities, promising desperate customers that if they just give you enough money you'll be secure from the boogeyman."

It looks like Bejtlich isn't planning to continue the spat – as of today, anyway.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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