USB can allow access to a locked Windows system

July 24th, 2005

"Vulnerabilities in USB drivers for Windows could allow an attacker to take control of locked workstations using a specially programmed Universal Serial Bus device, according to an executive from SPI Dynamics, which discovered the security hole.

The buffer-overflow vulnerabilities could enable an attacker to circumvent Windows security and gain administrative access to a user's machine.

This is just the latest example of a growing danger posed by peripheral devices that use USB (Universal Serial Bus), FireWire and wireless networking connections, which are often overlooked in the search for remotely exploitable security holes, experts say."

This flaw is not like other flaws with Windows because according to David Dewey, a research engineer at SPI, the flaw resides with USB itself.

"Like many hardware drivers, USB drivers are written with very little data validation and security awareness. They're bare-bones drivers that focus on [speed]," Dewey said.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The dangers posed to systems by the lack of security surrounding peripherals are great and so far little has been done to make systems more secure. New USB standards are in the pipeline but that's little help to system admins (and home users) trying to keep their systems safe.

The best way to stay secure now seems to be to switch off.

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2005 at 11:09 and is filed under In the News, Stay Safe!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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