March 22, 2004

Security Attacks on Security Software

A new computer worm infects PCs by attacking security software, according to a Brian Krebs story in Saturday's Washington Post. The worm exploits flaws in two personal firewall products, made by Black Ice and Real Secure Internet. Just to be clear: the firewalls' flaw is not that they fail to stop the worm, but that they actively create a hole that the worm exploits. People who didn't buy these firewalls are safe from the worm.

This has to be really embarrassing for the vendor, ISS. The last thing a security product should do is to create more vulnerabilities.

This problem is not unique. Last week, another security product, Norton Internet Security, had a vulnerability reported.

Consumers are still better off, on balance, using PC security products. On the whole, these products close more holes than they open. But this is a useful reminder that all network software caries risks. Careful software engineering is needed everywhere, and especially for security products.

Posted by Ed Felten at March 22, 2004 07:01 PM