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How Microsoft Fights Off 100,000 Attacks A Month

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the more-power-to-em dept.

169

El Lobo writes to mention a ComputerWorld article about Microsoft's battles with the Hackers of the world. The software giant fights off more than 100,000 attacks every month, protecting their data-heavy internal network from the paws of your average script kiddie. The article discusses Microsoft's 'defense in depth' strategy, and discusses just some of the layers in that barrier. From the article: "The first layer of protection for the Microsoft VPN is two-factor authentication. After an infamous incident in the fall of 2000, Microsoft installed a certificate-based Public Key Infrastructure and rolled out smart cards to all employees and contractors with remote access to the network and individuals with elevated access accounts such as domain administrators. Two-factor authentication requires that you have something physical, in this case the smart card, and also know something, in this case a password."

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100,000 a month...? (5, Funny)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163768)

So, who's doing the other 99,999 then...? :)

Crash... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164032)

and burn!

Re:100,000 a month...? (4, Funny)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164852)

My guess would be some fella called "Windows Update"...

They use bees (4, Funny)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164864)

Microsoft sends care packages of bees to hackers. Leaked internal memos suggest turmoil amongst executives who can't decide if they should send more bees or just pull out entirely. A study group has determined that Microsoft should begin talks with various hacker groups as a diplomatic means of ending the bloodshed, but few believe that it will stop the attacks or the need for more bees. Many mourn for the loss of the bees, who die upon losing their stingers, while others point out that these are volunteer bees and that it's to be expected.

Re:They use bees (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165142)

Only honey bees lose their stingers (and subsequently their life) when stinging a "victim," this is because the stinger is barbed and once lodged into flesh it sticks along with it's venom sac. Most other bee species don't have these barbs, so they can sting multiple times and live.

I suggest Hornets, Yellow Jackets or other wasp species as they can sting multiple times and do so with more potent venom. They are also far more aggressive.

Thanks! (5, Funny)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163788)

Thanks for passing all those protection and security measures you develop to your customers! Wait a tic...

Re:Thanks! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163894)

WHERE IS SARAH CONNOR

Yahoo Ping Department (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164104)

Tommorow we're going to hear from the ping department at Yahoo.

I always wondered what they do with all those echo requests.

Re:Yahoo Ping Department (3, Interesting)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164440)

huh, I almost always use ping www.yahoo.com when I'm testing a DNS.
    does everyone default to this for some reason that I'm not aware of? Is that what you're referring to?

Re:Yahoo Ping Department (2, Insightful)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164572)

I think its very common.

I know everyone here always does ping yahoo.com to test DNS/network connections.

We also ping google.com somtimes too

I feel bad for them

Re:Yahoo Ping Department (4, Funny)

Da_Weasel (458921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164470)

They are building up a stock pile of pings. It's all part of a diabolical plan to rule the universe through their pingopoly. Soon we shall all bow before their pingy-ness-ish-ness. Those who obey their pingy commands will recieve their daily ration of echo packets, everyone else will be left wanting... MMWhhaAHahHAhahahAHahahHAh!!!!

Then (1)

ppc_digger (961188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165314)

I, for one, welcome our new ping-responding overlords.

Re:Yahoo Ping Department (3, Interesting)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164998)

This is hilarious! I always ping yahoo.com when DNS testing too! I choose it because they have a reliable service and consistent response times.... and I never Yahoo! and I would not want to do this to a service/site I like/use :)

How about the best step . . . (4, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163794)

Keeping your vital data physically disconnected from the outside Internet. I know it'll cut off people who work remotely, but if it's that important, it's worth it.

Re:How about the best step . . . (4, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164030)

MS is big, and vital data are distributed in not-so-vital chunks throughout the organization and in different ways.

Combined, it's all vital. But imho, saying "just cut the plug on the network" is not feasible and horribly short-sighted. MS has several web applications, update servers, search engines... what are you saying again? You propose they cut all that off, too? The damage is just as bad (if not worse) if their update servers get hacked instead of their personnel database.

Network security covers a little more than just "vital data".

Re:How about the best step . . . (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164086)

"Keeping your vital data physically disconnected from the outside Internet."

Beyond that, Microsoft needs to control what executable code its employees can grab off the Internet. Apparently, even non-IT workers there can download and install almost anything. I know a contractor in technical support that just translates the phone conversations and really isn't a technical person at all. He just speaks multiple languages. And from what he tells me, he has no restrictions on his computer from installing software off the internet.

Re:How about the best step . . . (1)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165158)

Keeping your vital data physically disconnected from the outside Internet. I know it'll cut off people who work remotely, but if it's that important, it's worth it.

Not only that, but if you think about it, providing remote access allows another point of entry for attack. All employees that use the remote access, even if trustworthy, can't be trusted to follow all security precautions when they aren't even at the office to begin with. If you are allowed full control over files remotely, you are basically exposing inside information to outside security risks, as even the neighbor kid could potentially delete your files if your employee is too sloppy security wise at home.

Re:How about the best step . . . (2, Interesting)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165476)

Thats great, as long as the people that use the vital data (executives, accounting, legal, sales, tech support, etc) don't need to get to the internet. Or do you have a kiosk set up that everyone queues up at?

I've worked for two large (150,000+) Fortune 100 companies. One was a bank and the other... the other employeed scientest and lets just say their IP, is the lifeblood of the business. And in my experience, no one is interested is disconnecting the data, it just isn't feasible (simple, yes). With two factor authentication, an IDS, and regular auditing a good remote access system is, IMHO, safer then LAN access. If its designed and implemented well there is nothing to worry about.

The thing you have to remember about information security is, if its not available to the users that are authorized, its considered down time and in most businesses, down time of the critical data is unacceptable.

How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (5, Funny)

LatexBendyMan (989778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163802)

They probably just run linux...

Re:How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (3, Interesting)

aliendisaster (1001260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164320)

Actually, they do...to a point:

http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2003/08/17/wwwmi crosoftcom_runs_linux_up_to_a_point_.html [netcraft.com]
(old article and I wasn't able to duplicate their test so it may have changed)

Re:How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164374)

I hope those cocksmoking teabaggers remember to pay their $699 SCO licensing fee...

Re:How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (2, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164478)

They probably just run linux...

Gee.. that's a surprise! I always thought Microsoft fended off attackers by throwing chairs at them...

There... now your cliché isn't lonely any more...

Re:How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (2, Funny)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164916)

They throw Beowulf clusters of naked and petrified statues of Natalie Portman as hot grits run down their pants expect in Russia where they throw you when you're not welcoming your new overlords or when old people aren't using the Internet in Korea.

Re:How to fend of 100,000 attacks a month (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165578)

They throw Beowulf clusters of naked and petrified statues of Natalie Portman as hot grits run down their pants expect in Russia where they throw you when you're not welcoming your new overlords or when old people aren't using the Internet in Korea.


Dude.... I wanted a quiet gathering of a few friendly clichés not a whole cliché convention!

That's funny... (5, Funny)

stag_beetle (1036182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163808)

I thought the first thing you were supposed to do to protect against attacks was to ensure you aren't using Microsoft products in any part of your infrastructure...

Re:That's funny... (3, Interesting)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163860)

reminds me of the story from a long while back about a site touting the greatness of Windows Server Software (might have actually have been a Microsoft site) -- well, somebody gets an error message one day, and it turns out the site was running Apache on Unix.

Re:That's funny... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164192)

That reminds me of a funny story too. You see, Mr. Bill Gates, in his shortsightedness, seriously thought that 640K would be enough for anyone! Can you believe that?

Oh yea, and if you eat Pop Rocks and a Coca-Cola at the same time, your head will explode.

Re:That's funny... (3, Interesting)

slashwritr (1009921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164678)

I thought that those sites were actually Apple "enthusiast" sites, and they were running on Linux? This site [imagicweb.com] confirms it; the article was in 2004, though, and those sites might be on Apple servers now.

Re:That's funny... (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165580)

You are about as good at telling jokes as a clown fish.

Re:That's funny... (1, Offtopic)

stag_beetle (1036182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163982)

Troll?! Don't you guys have a sense of humor?

Re:That's funny... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164538)

Troll?! Don't you guys have a sense of humor?
You must be new here. Slashdot humor always takes forms like "In Soviet Russia ...", "Imagine a Beowulf cluster ..." or "1. ... 2. ??? 3. Profit!"

Re:That's funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164908)

In Soviet Russia, Beowulf clusters YOU!

1: Be in Soviet Russia
2: Cluster mass amounts of social rejects
3: ???
4: PROFIT!

From Beowulf: "Actually, the thrid step is taping them have sex with what little girls there are"

One word: (0, Troll)

Salo2112 (628590) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163814)

linux!

One word: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164014)

Redundant!

Re:One word: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164842)

Too bad you can't meta-moderate a (Score:-1, Redundant) moderation as funny...

Over 100,000 every month (2, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163836)

The software giant fights off more than 100,000 attacks every month, protecting their data-heavy internal network from the paws of your average script kiddie.

A network powered by Fedora Core 6...

Moderators are idiots (-1, Troll)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164226)

So up above, a joke about running linux gets modded funny, and this one gets modded troll. Who gives these people mod points anyways?

Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163856)

... do they run Linux?

I'm surprised... (4, Insightful)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163900)

The article seems to say they only use Microsoft solutions to provide their security.
I'm surprised they don't even have a little something from RSA. Is their solution that good (jokes aside!), or are they just suffering from major Not Invented Here syndrome?

Re:I'm surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164016)

The thing with Microsofts NIH syndrome is that I only understood it after developing ABM (Anything But Microsoft) syndrome. Now I understand perfectly where the monopolist bastards are coming from.

Re:I'm surprised... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164122)

RSA is making their physical asset. They carry smart cards. RTFA.

http://www.rsasecurity.com/node.asp?id=1173 [rsasecurity.com]

Re:I'm surprised... (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164270)

Do you honestly believe they would admit to using anything other than MS? Do you remember the noise that was made about their website being protected by a company using linux servers to protect it from denial of service stuff? Do you remember the noise that was made when that linux based company signed up with their silly streaming media shit and was able to stream windows media more efficiently from linux boxes than what equivilent Windows boxes could do? (The worst part about this was that it could only stream windows media content to windows computers, and linux clients could't do anything with the streaming media from the linux server).

Give MS some credit...their Marketing/PR departments aren't stupid enough to talk about everyone else products used to secure their network, but I have a hard time believing that their technical folks are stupid enough to restrict themselves to MS products. I mean I have heard people explain to me how MS Proxy is the best proxy ever, or how that other stupid MS firewall/proxy/server thing is the best for boundary protection...but I assume those people will never work in security at a decent sized company for long if at all. MS products have their uses as much as I dislike many of them...but if I ever had anyone working for me try to use an MS product for something like boundary protection I would slap them, repeatedly, in front of the whole IT department.

Re:I'm surprised... (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164666)

Seriously. They might have a number of Microsoft products involved in running their VPN, but I'll bet it's mixed in with offerings from Cisco or Juniper. They could still claim it was an "all MS solution" since a Cisco ASA, for instance, is a "hardware appliance" and doesn't involve the use of software at all! (Damn, I can't say that with a straight face...)

Re:I'm surprised... (5, Informative)

bmajik (96670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165056)

funny you mention that - all outbound internet traffic from Microsoft's internal network goes through...

wait for it..

Microsoft ISA Server.

There may be other stuff out in front of that, but I have no evidence that there is.

I happen to dislike ISA server - because all of my traffic to the outside world goes through it, and if i notice it, its because it did something i didn't like (like forgot how to resolve hostnames - that's pretty common). I used to complain about it every day.. i'd say stuff like "ISA server makes me want to quit my job" or "maybe i could buy a 28.8 modem and get reliable fast internet access while at work). But, ISA server has gotten a lot better and the # of times a week I curse my existance has gone way down. I'll complain to co-workers that "there is no excuse for this - i've run Squid before and there are never any problems", but to be honest, i've never run a squid cluster with over 100 nodes serving over 100,000 PCs, so its not precisely apples to apples. And i've never put pre-production Squid code into a production environment -- which is exactly what we do with everything we make. My inbox has been on beta exchange for months, and over half the domain controllers here in Fargo are running Longhorn server builds.

Same thing with wireless. We deployed WPA before most of the outside world had heard of it. Internally, it was the only way to get wireless at all. If your device didn't do WPA, you didn't get to connect.

There are a few well-known "MS uses linux!!!!@#$!@#$ OMGZORZ!!!" stories out there, so i'll address the ones i am familiar with

MS uses Linux to host MS.Com

False. Microsoft.Com runs on windows servers. Microsoft has contracted with akamai to do geocaching of various web properties, and akamai uses linux to a large extent. This is why when you look at some MS.Com "machines" with tools like nmap, they'll come back as Linux boxes. they aren't MS machines, they aren't in any MS datacenter, and they aren't MS managed.

Hotmail is all linux

False. Hotmail was never linux. Hotmail has a distributed architecture, and at the time of acquisition, the front end machines were FreeBSD, and the back ends were Ultra enterprise 4500s. Eventually, the FE's were moved to Windows Server. My understanding is that they tried the transision using NT4 and it was miserable, and tried again with W2k and it was much much better. Eventually, all the Fe's got moved onto one of the server products (i dont remember if it was w2k or w2k3 before it was "done") and the hotmail capacity went UP.. i.e. re-writing the hotmail stuff natively for the new windows based platform has allowed hotmail to run more efficiently on less hardware, with lower management costs. The backend machines were still enormous sun boxes last time i asked about it a few years ago.. for a few reaons. 1) the investment in those was huge 2) the filesystem was completely customized for the application. I wouldn't be surprised if the back ends have also moved off of Sun machines. The back end boxes apparently did almost nothing with CPUs.. but lots and lots of disk IO. The custom filesystem is probably the biggest reason that moving back ends didn't happen earlier.

It's important to Microsoft to run our own stuff everywhere we can, because it demonstrates to customers that the product can meet their capacity needs, and because real world use is the best test of big complex systems. There are a few things we are NOT self hosting on yet - for instance, I am in the Business Division and while we sell a variety of ERP programs (from companies we've acquired), we still use 3rd party ERP systems to run "Microsoft, the Company". Those of you with ERP experience will understnad that this is not something you transition "over nite" or "just because". It is a goal for us in the Business Division to move MS onto our ERP stuff internally - it adds additional credibility to our products when we can tell customers "it can run Microsoft, so it can probably run your stuff". And our competitors _love_ saying things like "why buy MS's version of blah, they dont even use it themselves!"

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165576)

Do you remember the guffaws resounding throughout /. and other geek websites when MS first tried to transition hotmail from freebsd to Windows NT?

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164294)

"The article seems to say they only use Microsoft solutions to provide their security."

Apparently, Microsoft indirectly uses Linux [theregister.co.uk] on the front lines by partially outsourcing the management of their DNS servers. But the date on TFA is 2001. I have no idea if that is true today.

Re:I'm surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164474)

Probably not accurate anymore.. i mean my memory may be bad but wasn't Hotmail all linux (before the buyout) back in 2001 until Microsoft converted everything to windows?

Re:I'm surprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164694)

But this change was to protect from DOS attacks when their system got hit. It wasn't some "legacy" service that they intended to eventually migrate. But who knows.

Re:I'm surprised... (4, Informative)

Da_Weasel (458921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164812)

Not exactly. Here is a quote from a case study that Microsoft published regarding the migration of hotmail from FreeBSD to Windows 2000.


"The original builders of the application created a two-tier architecture built around various UNIX systems. FreeBSD, a UNIX-like system similar to the Linux operating system, was used to run the front-end Web servers that handled login, Microsoft Outlook Express, and Web-based content delivery tasks."

...


"During June and July of 2000, the Hotmail site was converted from FreeBSD running Apache Web services to Windows 2000 Server running Microsoft Internet Information Services 5.0."


You can read the case study here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/interopmigration/ case/hotmail/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

Re:I'm surprised... (2, Informative)

ampmouse (761827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164814)

Hotmail ran on FreeBSD [theregister.co.uk] until after 2001, but microsoft bought hotmail in 1998. So, microsoft was running hotmail on FreeBSD for over 4 years.

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164890)

Actually, it is still correct. If you downloaded the Vista betas and RCs, you'd know they still use Akamai for some of their servers. And according to that article in The Register, "Following the debacle Microsoft has partially offloaded its DNS servers to Akamai Technologies - which tests suggest is running these servers on Linux." If they're still using Akamai, they're still using Linux.

Their ultimate solution is all Microsoft ... (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164390)

Those with the skills to steal it have no use for it.

Re:I'm surprised... (2, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165168)

I would think the article should be more appropriately titled: How Microsoft Implements VPN Security to Fend off 100,000 Attacks. I have no doubts that MS uses companys' solutions like routers and firewalls as part of their overall security. This article was all about VPN security.

ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163902)

this is a story about how MS is doing security... however, 2 factor authentication has been in use for decades, even before computers became the common day things they are today. In the military, I've seen where it takes 3 people and two keys just to open a door to a secured space. The tech is new, and hopefully now that MS is telling people that is how they do things, perhaps banks and other people with my personal information stored up will start doing the same??? sigh

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (4, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163968)

Where did it mention that MS is doing anything groundbreaking or revolutionary here?

This is simply an article about how MS, arguably the most targeted entity out there, secures their business.

Further, it appears to work very well for them, without sacrificing their employees ability to work.

Really, what are you trying to say here? Should it require 3 people and 2 keys to log into your office over VPN every day to get some work done? Somehow I thing not, but that still leaves me wondering what is your point?

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164146)

The point is that I'm glad that it works for MS, its been working for other people/groups/companies for decades, in several forms... I just hope that this example of how well it works will inspire banks to follow the example

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164316)

Further, it appears to work very well for them, without sacrificing their employees ability to work.

Of course should it not work well, Microsoft wouldn't tell you. Or would you really expect them to say "well, we have security problems caused by this MS product ..."? There are a lot of reasons why they won't do that. First, it would of course make bad advertising for the products. Second, it would also make bad advertising of MS itself (along the lines of "they can't even keep their own network safe"). And third, it would give attackers a hint where to target their attack.

So the fact that MS claims that it works well in reality doesn't tell you much. Maybe it works well, maybe it doesn't, but all you really can say is that it isn't so bad that they can't cover all problems which might occur.

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1)

Da_Weasel (458921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164900)

Hahaha...that would be really funny! I was just thinking about my company hiring two people to follow me home each night just so they could require three people to be present for me to access the VPN...hahaha

I really don't know why I found that so funny, but i'm still laughing...heheh

Do more people and more keys make something more secure? O_o

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163984)

terminator 2 style

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (3, Insightful)

wtansill (576643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164410)

perhaps banks and other people with my personal information stored up will start doing the same??? sigh
You really do not want to go there. Let's say you have the following (reasonably typical) scenario:
  1. You have a checking account
  2. You have a 401(k) through your company
  3. You have a Visa credit card
  4. You have a MasterCard credit card
Each institution where you maintain an account decides to require two-factor authentication.
  • Do the security keys interoperate, or do you have to now have four seperate tokens?
  • Your spouse wishes to log in as well, can (s)he use the same tokens, or does (s)he have to have their own?
  • Spend a lot of time on the road? Want to check your account(s) from your hotel room? Take all your tokens. Which, BTW, means that the spouse cannot check while you are away unless each account issues one token per spouse or other authorized account user (which, BTW, adds cost for the institution).
  • You have an emergency of some sort and must have access to your account, but forgot/lost your token, the battery died, whatever. Is there a secondary mechanism that will allow you to access your account which does not rely on the use of the security token? If so, you've just doubled the institution's cost of doing business with no net benefit to the institution.
Add to that the scary fact that two-factor authentication does nothing to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks -- someone can still get hold of your session and possibly access your supposedly secure accounts -- and the luster dims for the two-factor scheme.

It works well in some limited instances, but I shudder to think of the possibilities if it's ever adopted on a wide scale.

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164660)

While there is that problem, and related problems, most everyone in the western world (covers me and my family) have mobile devices whether that is a phone, pda, or pager. These devices can be registered with the service in question as the place to send the token for 2nd factor authentication. To eliminate man in the middle, there are other methods rather than straight https. Sure, that might require that you install some app(let) on your machine and limit you to using only machines with that app(let) installed, but this still allows quite secure remote access to your data with a much reduced risk. Certainly much safer than current methods of remote access to that data.

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165286)

While there is that problem, and related problems, most everyone in the western world (covers me and my family) have mobile devices whether that is a phone, pda, or pager. These devices can be registered with the service in question as the place to send the token for 2nd factor authentication.
I'm referring to the physical token that you have to have in hand in order to supply the second authemtcation factor. For instance, RSA makes a physical device that creates a six digit random number at one minute intervals. This device (the "token") is synced up with the provider's service and you have to supply the number from the physical device along with your password when you log in.

Even assuming that you can set up your laptop or PDA to be "the device" as you seem to suggest, you still have to register with multiple services, most likely loading (potentially conflicting) software for each, with all the problems that entails.

Unless and until the technique is standardized (an institution can recognize physical devices from multiple device providers, or can interoperate with one or more programs provided by security vendors), I don't think we will see widespread adoption. Even then, it can be compromised without much effort. See this link http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/03/the_ failure_of.html/ [schneier.com] for a discussion on how easily this can be accomplished

Re:ok, sure .. .this is somehow news because (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165340)

Two factor authentications like most kids cereals is "part" of a complete breakfast. You can't depend on two factor auth alone, but when it is combined with other things like sufficiently complex passwords, good security hygiene, and strong encryption what you end up with is good security. Not perfect security. Companies are also beginning to realize that it is no longer about the perimeter. You have to protect the inside as well. Probably the single most important piece of security is not technological, but procedural. Segregation of duties.

If all else fails... (3, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163934)

They whip out the OEM image CD and reinstall. The down side is they have to get rid of all those AOL icons and replace Norton AV each time.

Re:If all else fails... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165226)

Not to mention changing the wallpaper, setting default apps to Firefox, Thunderbird and WinAMP and editing the global policy to disallow MSN Messanger to run at all.

Seems unlikely that they'd run Linux (3, Insightful)

coleopterana (932651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164010)

I've noticed that the best way to find problems with your own product is to have your employees (forced to) use it on a daily basis. I'm no Microsoft fan nor a software engineer but it seems to me to be the quickest way to find holes that testing didn't uncover. Now that in itself presents an interesting question: does that make it harder to find SECURITY problems if you're testing your product behind all those corporate protections (assuming they work)? It's no real-world experience to do that.

The difficult part is legislations/conventions (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164120)

The difficult part is finding a way to define 'employees' under 'detainees', that would allow them to do this.

what counts as an "attack"? (5, Interesting)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164018)

Honestly, my own computers fight off thousands of "attacks" a month, if you lower the bar enough. Are there worms knocking on port 137? Or are these actual hackers with stolen passwords/passcards?

Re:what counts as an "attack"? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164166)

My company servers are also under constant attack. On top of that, I've had two users succumb to spyware keyloggers and had two separate accounts compromised. Email is under constant attack, web servers, ssh and ftp servers, the firewall, the routers..... Dictionary attacks abound, script kiddies run amok...

Re:what counts as an "attack"? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164308)

My own home computer since Nov. 30th has "fought off" over 760 attacks. All it took me to do this is just run firestarter. Does this mean that I'm having an all out war with some hackers?... or does this mean that one person who is on the same network as me (stupid appartment blocks with their crazy internet set ups) is too stupid to have updated to SP2?

Come to think of it maybe this is whats going on here...

God I wish it was a crime to not properly maintain your computer.

Balance? (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164042)

The software giant fights off more than 100,000 attacks every month
I wonder how the number of attacks on other sites enabled by botnets of compromised Windows machines compares to this. Are they taking more or less than their software dishes out to the rest of the world?

I can only pray.... (0, Troll)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164050)

I can only pray that this is the 'quiet before the storm'!

But then again, it's not like M$ attacks anyone, ever... is it? Been annoying any crackers/hackers/consumers/people recently? Friendly with Linux users and developers etc., are we?

"You reap what you sow."

Slashvertisement (2)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164064)

The article reads like an advertisement for Microsoft products. The article has a nice catchy subject line and the proceeds to explain how Microsoft leverages such neat toys as Exchange proxies, Microsoft Office Communicator, etc. The article is so heavy on naming each little piece of software that it reads like a big advertisement. How much do you want to bet it is a press release from Microsoft reprinted by Computerworld?

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164140)

No kidding. It's not enough to wade through interstitial ads to get to a page that's 60% ads sprinkled randomly throughout the text of the article; the article itself has to be a marketing blowjob for MS.

We've reached the advertising singularity!

Computerworldvertisement maybe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164254)

But posted on slashdot for the humorous effect.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164744)

The article reads like an advertisement for Microsoft products.
Perhaps ComputerWorld is partial to Microsoft. The more I become familiar with tech industry news, the more apparent it becomes that various news outlets have a tendency to be very credulous with the companies they are most familiar with. Other companies tend to have their PR very much sliced and diced and taken with a grain of salt.

Though I may be confusing the "news" with the blogs since the bloggers seem to be absolved of all attempts at impartiality, though. But the blogs are definitely interesting when they point to the biases of the staff.

Rampant unfair modding (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164080)

Looks like at least one moderator, and at maybe more, are expending all of their mod points marking down any top postings that mention Linux or question this story in any way. I was +2 funny, then two guys marked me and most adjacent postings as troll. This is totally bogus, because all of the mod-downs were against valid postings. Methinks we may have Microsoft shills in here with mod points...

Marketting Material (5, Informative)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164138)

That article wasn't very informative. It only talks about the security functionality offered by Microsoft products (specifically VPN/ISA and Exchange). It doesn't even address what kind of attacks are being launched against the company beyond the typical "Virus emails." In other words, it's just thinly disguised marketting material put out under a header that seems interesting.

I wonder how they got to the 100,000 number. If you count port scans and IP spoofs then my home network sees thousands of attacks every month.

You mean more security makes things more secure?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164198)

Jesus, this is mindblowing.

The Money to make it work. (1)

jsheedy (772604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164332)

You have to realize, that though they do get a that many attacks per month, they have the money to dump into network security to sure up what the issue are. Not just the software side, but the actual people able to monitor all those incoming attacks. Plus the systems they (hackers)are trying to attack/hack are ones they MS programmed. Who other then MS should know their software. They programmed it, they should be able to protect it. If there are issues, throw more bodies, and money into it so that it gets fixed. Does that help all the other companies that use MS products, I would guess eventually, but most companies don't have the resources, or the money to spend that MS has. Something more impressive would be a solution they sold to someone, that has one IT person on staff, they receive 100k of attacks per month, and they run without issue.

Statistics...gotta 'luv em (5, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164408)

The software giant fights off more than 100,000 attacks every month, protecting their data-heavy internal network from the paws of your average script kiddie.

If MS is using the routine fuzzy-math they tend to throw out when attempting to make the company seem more powerful and dominating than is backed up by reality, the '100,000 attacks' could be 99,999 pieces of spam email and one ping-flood.

See, this is how MS routinely tries to brainwash Joe and Jane consumer. Toss out a statistic that is impossible to verify, along with just enough verbal imagery to impress non-tech savvy spenders and you're on your way to profitsville!

'data-heavy internal network...' That is some pretty shiny bull-shit, by the way...data-heavy! As opposed to what? I can see those steel grey towering industrial strength routers, embedded into solid concrete bunkers, laced with 50 cm MIL spec reinforcing bar that is tied deep in bedrock, far below the cavernous data centers the brave MS engineers toil without end to feed, with miles and miles of 1 meter thick ethernet cables, snaking like giant blood veins, throbbing quietly as the beast that is MS R&D works around the clock for the good of mankind.

Makes me proud to be an American, I 'tell ya!

Re:Statistics...gotta 'luv em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164964)

I can see those steel grey towering industrial strength routers, embedded into solid concrete bunkers, laced with 50 cm MIL spec reinforcing bar that is tied deep in bedrock, far below the cavernous data centers the brave MS engineers toil without end to feed, with miles and miles of 1 meter thick ethernet cables, snaking like giant blood veins, throbbing quietly as the beast that is MS R&D works around the clock for the good of mankind.

that's more like how I picture google's headquarters.

Re:Statistics...gotta 'luv em (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165332)

From your tone, it's pretty obvious that believe that 100,000 is an unreasonable number. Why would you believe that the company who has the largest OS marketshare by an order of magnitude, has the largest OS name recognition would not have at least that number. 100,000 would seem on the very low-end of attacks, the thought of being able to infect the largest OS maker in the entire world has got to make a number of people salivate. Do you really think there are only a handful of people in the world interested in targetted attacks against MS infrastructure, is that why you are so passionate that the number seems out of line?

Additionally, I'm pretty sure you didn't read the article as it states specifically that they filter out 9 million spam messages, which coincidentally is a number larger than 100,000 per month (a factor of >2700 times). The data-heavy stuff was not in the article, it's from the submitter and I have no idea where he got it from.

I'm a unix admin, and could easily see through the BS you were posting, how you got modded up as insightful is a perfect example of your second sentence. "Toss out a post that moderators won't verify, along with just enough verbal imagery to impress non-tech savvy moderators and you're on your way to being modded up!". You either are complete moron, or brilliantly sneaky in intentionally creating a post that actually goes against itself but has enough dazling BS in it to fool people to fool them.

Re:Statistics...gotta 'luv em (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165718)

A UNIX, sorry, I mean 'unix' admin.

Hey, everybody! Look!! A 'unix admin'!

Lucky day! And you used factorials and everything. I am NOT worthy, honestly. Sorry, but this is a bit overwhelming - I have to take a moment..pinch myself & make sure I'm not dreaming.

Wait until I tell the guys on the loading dock! Those drop-outs are going to be green with envy all thru the night shift. Am I good or what!!?? I hooked one for the books this time :)

The data-heavy stuff was not in the article, it's from the submitter and I have no idea where he got it from.

Really? Is it that hard to make the connection?

Ok, since it appears to be a bit too much of a stretch for you, I'll connect the dots and make it simple - you'll still have to do a bit of thinking, but I believe in you, or I wouldn't waste time helping to prop you up. Clear your mind and let things come into focus. You can do it - don't let me down!

The article and the submitter are both from the same PPT marketing ploy.

What I can't figure out, however, is where the hell are you from? What did I ever do to you? Did you miss another promotion? Someone steal your favorite wastebasket? What? Holidays got you down? Another price hike on cheap wine-in-a-box...those bastards!

I'm here for you, whatever your particular tragedy is. Don't worry about me - I can take it. Keep thrashing until all the demons run away.

Oh, and thanks for taking a run at me, really. As dull of an effort it was, I'm flattered nonetheless.

100,000 is very low for automated attacks (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164422)

100,000 is very low, on a typical home machine if you're getting hundreds or thousands of attempts by bots, then surely the biggest software maker is getting millions. However, if they mean 100,000 attacks by individuals per month, meaning someone directly trying to "hack into microsoft", that seems impressively high. Wouldn't at least several of those get in through social engineering alone (i.e. pretend to be hot girl, get password, etc.)?

OpenBSD Firewalls (1)

Retardican (1006101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164426)

shhhhh.. Don't leak this one... Remember Hotmail anyone?

Re:OpenBSD Firewalls (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164690)

IIRC Hotmail was *not* OpenBSD, but rather it was FreeBSD. Or at least their servers were. I used hotmail primarily before Microsoft purchased them, and it was pretty amusing to me back then because for a while it was actually still running on BSD machines. And once they had switched over to Windows, the service was horribly slow, unreliable, and generally crap. Finally MS picked up the slack and fixed all the problems.

Re:OpenBSD Firewalls (1)

r00tman (933759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164726)

Did Hotmail used to run on BSD?

Re:OpenBSD Firewalls (1)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165688)

nevermind the fact they have been all Windows and Exchange for almost 8 years now (finished the migration in 1999)...

Good thing they're so secure. Otherwise... (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164432)

...someone might steal the Windows code and come out with a competing operating system. :P

Re:Good thing they're so secure. Otherwise... (1)

CronicBurn (316845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164574)

God forbid someone from the open source community gets ahold of it. It might actually work.

Microsoft Linux (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164610)

Do you think Microsoft has their own version of Linux now? That would be the only answer, I would think.

Either that, or my buddy Josh (and many others) is doing his job properly!

And we forward all of our Spam to Earthlink... (1)

olyar (591892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164650)

...that's a black hole [slashdot.org] it'll never come back from!

Great idea (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164840)

"...and also know something, in this case a password."

That's a novel idea.

Remote Assistance Hole (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164872)

Having worked with M$ for a few months, I called tech support a few times and they all asked me to set the "Automatically accept requests" for remote desktop support, and all support people were from outside vendors outside of the country. Each time I refused to check it, but imagine all the people that did leave it checked for others to easily remotely control their machines.

end to end protection (1)

kalpol (714519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165260)

"Steve, send the phone spiders."

100k seems low (2, Interesting)

xPsi (851544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165262)

100k attacks per month for Microsoft seems low to me. That is about 1 attack every 30 seconds. I'm not saying that this is a low number on an absolute scale, but it seems low for MS. I might have just assumed they were continuously under multiple attacks.

its obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165570)

They all use Macs.
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