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[ISN] Security UPDATE-- Group Policy and Corporate Policy--October 13, 2004
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The Unofficial Guide to IM for Executives
1. In Focus: Group Policy and Corporate Policy
2. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- Modify Your ASP.NET Applications for Added Security
- Microsoft Working on Spyware Solution
3. Security Matters Blog
- Security Fixes Available for Mac OS X
- Security Update for Firefox Preview Release
4. Security Toolkit
- Security Forum Featured Thread
5. New and Improved
- Use Certificates to Secure Your Files
- Monitor Keystrokes, Passwords, Emails, and Web Site Visits
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==== 1. In Focus: Group Policy and Corporate Policy ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net
Recently on a popular mailing list devoted to security on Microsoft
platforms, a member explained that he had configured Group Policy to
prevent people from installing unapproved software on their systems.
He wrote that he wasn't content with Group Policy Objects (GPOs),
because they only block the installation of software packaged in
Windows Installer (.msi) files, which means that executables could
still run and install programs.
In response, another list member suggested that administrators could
adjust ACLs on areas of the registry (such as the
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE subkey or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
subkey) and on directories (such as the Program Files directory) to
restrict regular user accounts from having write access, which would
prevent the installation of software. These actions could work but
might break some applications that need to write to those areas of the
registry and file system.
Another list member suggested that administrators could configure
restrictions that prevent programs such as setup.exe and install.exe
from running. This might work too, but some users will realize they
can simply rename typical installation programs and the programs will
run just fine.
Obviously, a combination of tactics is required. Completely
restricting people from installing software on their systems, whether
you use controls built into the OS or add-on controls from third
parties, is challenging. The further you programmatically restrict
activity on a system, the greater chance you have of breaking some
application that users need.
As I read the message thread, it became clearer how much
administrators struggle to outmaneuver the people who use the
computers on their networks. It seems to me that there is an
additional, less stressful way to address this particular problem.
Companies can establish written guidelines that explain exactly what
employees are allowed and not allowed to do with company computers and
make employees liable for any misuse of company computers to deter
employees from acting outside the guidelines.
If someone installs software on a computer without permission,
somewhere along the line, an administrator will probably have to
uninstall that software or rebuild the system to ensure some desired
level of system integrity. This work costs the company money and is
basically a waste of company time. So why not consider a corporate
policy that lets you charge the negligent employee for the time and
labor needed to restore a system to its original configuration? Of
course, you could also add even stronger deterrents to your policies
if your situation warrants them.
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==== 2. Security News and Features ====
Recent Security Vulnerabilities
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security
Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security
vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries
Modify Your ASP.NET Applications for Added Security
The new Microsoft article "Programmatically check for
canonicalization issues with ASP.NET" (
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=887459 ) recommends program code
adjustments for applications that use ASP.NET. The changes will help
strengthen overall security because they prevent intruders from
gaining access to files they shouldn't be able to access.
Microsoft Working on Spyware Solution
During a recent trip to the Computer History Museum in Mountain
View, California, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill
Gates revealed that his company is working on an antispyware software
solution. Gates didn't say when the company would ship the technology
or whether it would be bundled with Windows or shipped as a standalone
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==== 3. Security Matters Blog ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://www.windowsitpro.com/securitymatters
Check out these recent entries in the Security Matters blog:
Security Fixes Available for Mac OS X
For those of you who support Apple systems on your network, be
aware that a new set of security patches for Apple Mac OS X is
Security Update for Firefox Preview Release
If you're using the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, you might need to
install an update to protect your systems against possible attacks. On
September 29, Alex Vincent reported a vulnerability that might let
intruders delete files on a user's system. Mozilla issued an update
for the browser on October 1.
==== 4. Security Toolkit ====
by John Savill, http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowsnt20002003faq
Q: Why can't clients view a Web site that I'm hosting on a system that
has Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed?
Find the answer at
Security Forum Featured Thread
A reader writes that he wants to move some data into a shared
read-only area in his file system. The data should ideally retain its
current permissions to the extent that only those with access now can
still access the data after the migration. To achieve this goal, he
proposes to use the Everyone group with a "deny" attribute to ensure
that, despite existing permissions, the highest level of access
available to the user community will be read-only. He would also like
to prevent anyone from mass-copying data out of this area. He wants to
know whether what he's trying to achieve is possible and, if so, how
he can do it. Join the discussion at
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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Renee Munshi, products@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Use Certificates to Secure Your Files
EldoS offers EldoS PKI Tools, which encrypts and signs files using
X.509 certificates and manages the certificates. EldoS PKI Tools lets
you perform simple file operations such as packing files into a .zip
archive, sending files as email attachments, and securely deleting
files. You can also perform advanced security operations such as
signing and encrypting files and folders. All operations are performed
with just a few clicks. EldoS PKI Tools uses digital certificates
instead of passwords to provide better information security and
integrity. EldoS PKI Tools supports smart cards and USB tokens for
storing certificates. EldoS PKI Tools runs on Windows
2003/XP/2000/Me/98. For more information, or to purchase and download
EldoS PKI Tools, go to
Monitor Keystrokes, Passwords, Emails, and Web Site Visits
iOpus Software's ActMon replaces STARR PC & Internet Monitor.
ActMon monitoring software claims several unique features:
"kernel-level" file protection that makes files completely
inaccessible and invisible to unauthorized users, "kernel-level"
keyboard recording that even logs the keystrokes entered during
Windows XP/2000 logon, and an activity data log that's protected with
256-bit encryption and that can run in an endless loop. In addition to
its unique features, ActMon performs the usual monitoring tasks,
tracking keyboard strokes, passwords, incoming and outgoing chat
conversations, email messages, and visited Web sites. The ActMon PRO
Edition adds advanced features such as flexible network functions to
send and receive reports via the Internet or a local network. ActMon
PRO costs $69.95, with discounts available for multiple users, sites,
and nonprofit organizations. ActMon runs under Windows
2003/XP/2000/Me/98. You can purchase ActMon or download a free 30-day
trial version at
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Editor's note: Share Your Security Discoveries and Get $100
Share your security-related discoveries, comments, or problems and
solutions in the Security Administrator print newsletter's Reader to
Reader column. Email your contributions (500 words or less) to
r2rsecadmin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx If we print your submission, you'll get
$100. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length.
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Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB) Everything is Vulnerable - http://www.osvdb.org/