Re: Misinformation in Security Advisories (ASN.1)

From: Simon Brady (
Date: 02/16/04

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    Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 08:35:14 +1300 (NZDT)
    To: John Compton <>

    On Mon, 16 Feb 2004, John Compton wrote:

    > First of all, there is good news for those of you out there who are
    > worried about the new ASN.1 vulnerability in Microsoft operating
    > systems. It is NOT exploitable to run arbitrary code in anything
    > approaching a real-world scenario.

    With all due respect, doesn't your argument for this claim boil down to "I
    can't see a way to exploit it therefore it can't be exploitable?". This is
    hardly a compelling case for sysadmins not to patch, particularly when
    we're hearing other self-proclaimed experts contradicting your claim.

    Maybe you're right, but I would be professionally negligent to leave my
    employer's systems unpatched based on the case you've presented. My job is
    to minimise risk to our operations and maximise confidence in the
    integrity of our systems: I'm not about to wait to be compromised so I can
    say "oh look, it was exploitable after all - I guess patching is justified

    Like it or not, our line of work is all about dealing with uncertainty and
    making tough calls based on insufficient evidence. I too would like to see
    a single, clearly authoritative advisory on any given security issue, but
    that doesn't seem likely out here in the real world.

    Simon Brady                   
    ITS Technical Services
    University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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