The only way to keep your computer safe if you are using competing products is to break your computer. You knew from past history this could happen yet you use non MS products.
Microsoft's workaround to protect Windows computers from the Intel processor security flaw dubbed Meltdown has revealed the rootkit-like nature of modern security tools. Some anti-malware packages are incompatible with Redmond's Meltdown patch, released last week, because the tools make, according to Microsoft, “unsupported …
to break your computer. You knew from past history this could happen yet you use non MS products.
Applies to MS products as well. How many people have had their Windows 10 system refuse to boot after the application of [cough-cough] secutiry updates supplied by MS themselves?
None of us are safe from having 'borked' systems. Sad fact of life today.
Simple. It's a CYA move. If they force the issue and business-critical computers get bricked as a result, companies lose money and Microsoft can face a lawsuit as a result. At least an un-updated system can still run, and if they're not in a position to update when they get pwned, then that's Intel's fault, not Microsoft's.
You'd have to actively disable things to get into this state, namely defender. Sure defender is garb, it wasn't I don't think ever supposed to be that great but I'm sure defender will set the key (edit: Microsoft do explicitly list it on their spreadsheet). Defender will only disable itself, and will always disable itself if you're running other AV.
If you've specifically decided to go naked as it were, it's kinda your own fault and you should be paying attention to things like this. As for lawsuits, you're the one making the positive step not Microsoft, there's no liability here.
"If you've specifically decided to go naked as it were, it's kinda your own fault and you should be paying attention to things like this."
Come on! How is it my fault that line of products that I do not use are faulty? And how exactly show I be paying attention to things like this.
I am a fairly simple man running a fairly simple system. I do simple things and manage to keep it tidy. I run no AV because they do more harm than good and I have got infect two times. Once around 1993 from 1.44 floppy disks with pirated games, and once in 2004 when I foolishly tried to patch a fresh win2k install on an open network. I manually apply all updates because I want to know my system and I need it to behave in a predictable way. There is no superfetch running and all activity on the hard drive, i.e. the blinking light, I can account for. I do however keep software updated and even though I have come to distrust windows update since it is used for advertisement and spyware, I have yet to experience it holding back on updates.
So I am supposed to seek out the local Microsoft office or what to get the news? Displayed in the basement perhaps? The basement without stairs or lights. Where there might be a notice on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".
If you are running a modern system without AV, you have taken a conscious choice to remove it - either MS AV or the crud that was supplied by the PC supplier. Therefore you should be taking a care of the system through other methods and therefore should be keeping an eye out for such security problems.
If the AV supplier does not want to add registry key setting to the main product, just spawn an administrator level command prompt that runs regedit to set the key.
As the key basically says "AV is ok for Meltdown and Spectre patches" - what concern is it of the AV supplier if the system has a third party incompatibility.
As the key basically says "AV is ok for Meltdown and Spectre patches" - what concern is it of the AV supplier if the system has a third party incompatibility.
Lawsuits... the ambulance chasers are already afoot. If you're big user of Windows (say... FMC or GM) and all your computers BSOD, or they decide not to patch and get hit by the bug, I suspect their lawyers will be looking for blood and lots of it.
By the time some heavy hitters with massive numbers of Bloat boxes get hammered by various failures they will sue everyone they can. Touch the registry and you might be tossed into the mix. Chipzilla and Littlezilla will definitely be named, Slurp and other OS suppliers will probably be named, security software peddlers will probably be named, etc. The further down the food chain the easier time you will have but you will still have to defend yourself initially. Many initially named will wiggle off the hook.
Ha! Haven't thought of that for a while, for good reason! I always hated the mid-80s requirement for cartoons to have some sort of younger, "edgy", annoying-as-fuck character such as Godzooky or (the worst offender) Scrappy Doo.
I'd like to think that The Simpson's use of Poochie in Itchy & Scratchy has hopefully stopped this sort of thing forever.
the mid-80s requirement
I think mid-80's is a little late - pretty sure they were all earlier than that - yup, Godzilla was 1978-1980, the droids added to the Westernised Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman). Scrappy Doo was 1979.
By the time we got to the 90's there was a return to form with the 'Steven Speilberg' produced series.
I doubt some brain dead TV exec will commission some dross again, or some 'concerned mothers' pogrom will kick up a fuss again somewhere down the line.
"they'd have to modify the product, maybe substantially"... please, tell me how s***y your installers are?
Well, I've seen applications that are unable to update their installations, and to be "safe", they uninstall the previous version and then install the new one. Hundred of megabytes.
Probably because they outsourced setups to people without a clue about them.
Not defending all installers here, but I actually *like* having this option. It reassures me that I'm not building layer upon layer of crud. For example, which would you rather have, a fresh install of Office 2016 or one that started with Office 2010, got upgraded to 2013 and then landed on 2016? The amount of cruft left on such a system would be terrifying.
Wireshark is one well-respected tool that does exactly this, and I've never had problems with it.
Something I've been wondering about... There are people who run multiple AV products. Suppose AV #1 is OK with the patches but AV #2 is not. If AV #1 sets the key, will AV #2 proceed to brick the system?
AV #2 will brick the system. I mean it's not like AV #1 can cancel out what AV #2 going to brick.
Also color me impress if you run multiple AV and managed not to brick either AV and your system at the start.
That was exactly one of the points covered in the article:
SentinelOne is upset that "the responsibility of setting the registry key" is shifted to the AV vendor. "While our testing revealed no incompatibilities, we are unwilling to take on the risk of setting this registry key,” the security software house said.
“This is because our customers may have other software products that use unsupported/undocumented APIs that are incompatible with Microsoft’s latest patches. In such a case, our customers may experience stop errors/system instabilities caused by other products that are not compatible with Microsoft fixes,”
There are people who run multiple AV products
This kind of thing is extremely bad practice, most people who work in security and AV vendors have been telling people to not do it for at least a decade, at least as far as active protection goes. Race conditions playing around in kernel memory space is bad juju.
Just don't do it.
Now having AV soft where one does your active protection and another that can scan but actively protecting the system is kinda viable, the answer in that case would be yeah, you better hope that the one you have doing the protection is the one that is compatible. If it isn't..
"This kind of thing is extremely bad practice, most people who work in security and AV vendors have been telling people to not do it for at least a decade, at least as far as active protection goes. Race conditions playing around in kernel memory space is bad juju."
Isn't placing your trust in ONE vendor who by nature can't catch everything ALSO bad juju? This sounds like a Catch-22. You either choose one and lose when something slips through or try to avoid monoculture and get bricked when they clash.
Isn't placing your trust in ONE vendor who by nature can't catch everything ALSO bad juju?
The chances of you getting hit by a virus or malware that a reasonably competent AV vendor hasn't accounted for and another has and you happen to have picked the right AV vendor combination to cover that venn diagram is almost nil - in fact it is nil. If you're a target for the CIA, usually you'd know and frankly you should be taking precautions like, I don't know, maybe not so much with the running of the Windows. Also, yeah, therein lies the trick when choosing AV.
Each to their own, but running two AV products at the same time isn't really viable, potentially it could do more damage than malware could.
I have several computers with different configurations, I have a Windows 7 machine running with Microsoft's Security essentials on it that already had this registry key set before the infamous update. Another computer with Windows 7 that has Trend Micro installed needed this registry key added.
(Trend Micro created a .reg file for users to download to add the key)
I don't know when the registry key on the Security Essentials machine was added but I know it existed before I installed the Meltdown update.
"I don't know when the registry key on the Security Essentials machine was added but I know it existed before I installed the Meltdown update."
I doubt it; this is a brand-new, never-previously-existed reg key. MSE may have had a recent update that told it to add the key if no other AV was present on the machine?
"Surely if MS do it then it's a supported call into kernel memory?"
I suspect that actually depends which bit of Microsoft makes the call. The Office team probably shouldn't be writing software that reaches into the kernel all the time (which they did quite a lot in the 90s and early 2000s).
Surely if MS do it then it's a supported call into kernel memory?
Starting in the 1990s, Microsoft was accused of maintaining "hidden" or "secret" APIs: interfaces to its operating system software that it deliberately keeps undocumented to gain a competitive advantage in its application software products
@martin an gof, at last someone who wasn't born yesterday, I too remember this little plum
The obvious answer is to download the patch as an exe disconnect the network, uninstall the AV install the patch then reboot and see if you can put the AV back on again. If you already have infections on your machine then nothing has changed and if it bombs then you can legitimately say I didnt have a AV installed it's all your fault Bill
It is nice to see MS finally recognising the value of covering your own arse after years of blase "just keep restarting it until it works"
Yeah, cos that's the same. Do you get regular tetanus shots? How about rabies? You can get flu even without coming into contact with someone who has it, you can't get tetanus without coming into contact with infected soil or rust, you can't get rabies without being bitten by an infected animal.
It should be obvious that Microsucks is the one who has erred with their rushed-to-market patch top try and mitigate the financial disaster that is Intel CPUs. The WinTel Cabal has finally succumbed to their own incompetence and greed. Now consumers are faced with replacing all Intel PCs or suffering the consequences. Everyone using Windows is going to be penalized for Intel's serious violations of good security practices with their defective CPUs sold over the past decade plus.
They are all "badly written", by design. This is just a heads up at the sort of shenanigans they have been getting up to all these years. AV tools are an invasion of your kernel internals by someone who doesn't know enough about your kernel and cannot respond to implementation changes in a timely fashion and if they get it wrong then your entire system is tanked and you might as well not own a PC.
AV do install drivers which give them access to the kernel - intercepting processes and I/O calls needs to be done at this level. These communicates with userland code, and because coding everything into a kernel module is difficult, if not impossible, they usually make data available to the userland part for processing. It looks they've been caught doing it in ways not compatible with these patches.
Depends - if you just run the file/processes inspection part on demand it's OK. If you let them "infect" your system with all their drivers and services to hook whatever they like automatically, there's a good chance they start fighting against each other.
On a file server or a mail server, for example, you may want to inspect file/attachments using more than one AV engine, the way VirusTotal works. Relying on a single one may be dangerous.
For email (before the days of the cloud), you would get a email filtering product that could include multiple engines, BitDefender, Kaspersky, etc. however it's one main product installed to the system, utilising the multiple engines it has licensed from the vendors.
It's also possible... to deliver email/web through multiple servers. Each one with a different AV / Filtering product that checks/cleans before delivery to the final mailbox server.
File servers, you'd have AV on the server and on the client, you should be concerned about entry points, email, web, USB stick / CD ROM and ensure each has it's own protection, in combination should have as well protected a network as possible.
Running multiple products on a single server/PC, not a good idea, unless most are passive/manual and only one "active"/installed/running in the background otherwise it will slow down/crash the system running two or more full AV "installed/active" products.
the people who run multiple AV are likely the lot who installed AVG free and then someone sold them another AV / they got one from their bank / Which told them about some other recommended product / some random bloke down the pub who cleans at a tech company recommended 1 etc but have no clue how to install the old one. They are likely the same people who have malware.
it happens more often than you think on consumer and small business pc's.
You can safely approve it in WSUS and it just won't be made available to the machines until they have the correct registry entry. As soon as it sees that (we just pushed the reg change via group policy as we know our AV is fine), the update will be available to install as per normal. Its the same for Windows Update - it just won't appear until the reg change. You can however download the patch manually and install it but at the risk of it causing a BSOD if your AV isn't compatible.
An AV tool that can't accept the Meltdown patch is an AV tool which has been silently exploiting the Meltdown vulnerability for as long as it's been "drill[ing] deep into the kernel's internals in order to keep tabs on the system."
In other words, the AV software have been the exploiting malware we've all been worrying about, and have been for years.
Not really, no.
Meltdown and Spectre are bugs which use out-of-order execution to gain unauthorized access to kernel data in userland. AVs do not do that. AVs do rely on being authorized to read elements of the kernel in userland, but having elements of the kernel in userland is not actually a problem - in fact, it's highly desireable, as you get speed increases of up to 4000%. Unless you can use out of order execution to read code without authorization, of course.
Basically, because Meltdown allows unauthorized access to the kernel in user space, and the problem is fundamental to processor design, the solution has been to remove kernel data from user space altogether. This means that programs which rely on AUTHORIZED access to kernel data in userland now do not work. The 'fix' for Meltdown is not actually a fix - it's a kludgy workaround to try and remove the circumstances that allow the bug to happen, rather than actually resolving the bug itself. Its also why we're getting massive performance reductions - not because every program ever has been exploiting the bug, but because most of them used user-side kernel data to speed them up.
Two thoughts, sorry if I'm repeating someone....
1. Re one of the paragraphs, writing a registry key is going to require significant code work - yes that is what the text suggested, give me a break, a lot of software that is written by what I consider poor practise writes hundreds if not thousands of registry entries apparently for random fun and leave it behind when it is removed. Writing a single key is a very basic call. (I do realise re-writing your AV kernel driver thingie - now that might be hard).
2. The alternative to a single key is a folder where each vendor software has to put in a "i'm good" notification and if everyone is good, updates continue.
Having said that, with this registry thing, malware has a very simple way to switch off updates at will, simpler than borking windows updates - which lets face it Microsoft bork their own update engine regularly enough.
So perhaps what we should have is a better way to register applications existence on the machine in a protected place such that they can be checked against an online 'master' record of goodness maintained by vendors / Microsoft. Heap of missed opportunities there with the whole 'certified' application certificates etc.
This is turning into a bigger poo pile every day as we better understand the consequences!
Clearly my basic reading of the issue needs some assistance;
What I understood is that due to processor running future commands making the assumption that they will run before they are officially called, and the fact that the results of those commands can be read, we have the meltdown issue.
Why isn't the answer to clear that pipeline and results whenever there is a kernel exception of the type that asks for privileged access? Or do kernel programmers use exceptions as their normal execution logic?
I expect I'm being too simplistic and it will need a pipeline to track the pipeline...
My understanding is that the problem has two parts. It's started by exploiting the speculative execution, true. But the processor does flush the invalid CPU instructions after it notices the exception. However, the processor doesn't revert any changes made to the caches, and for some reason the userland code is able to access the data in the cache directly.
On this issue, I'm with Microsoft: it isn't Microsoft's responsibility to check if every third party AV product has not done silly things to the OS that would make systems fail when the Meltdown patch is applied. MS have simply said to the AV companies "This is what the Meltdown patch does. You know what you products do, so you are the ones to decide whether your products are compatible with the Meltdown patch". Short of not issuing any patch, I don't see what other choice MS have.
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