RE: Serious Security Issue in Windows XP SP2's Firewall

From: Langston, Fred (
Date: 09/26/04

  • Next message: Depp, Dennis M.: "RE: Items within XP SP2 and Win2003"
    To: "'Laura A. Robinson'" <>, "'Thor'" <>,
    Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 13:34:37 -0400

    Hi All,

    Let's see if we can reduce this problem. Is this the sequence of cause and
    effect described in the bulletin?

    1. Start with XP SP1 with ICF off and ICS on (a home user using dialup and
    bridging to the rest of their home network comes to mind and is still
    common, I believe)

    2. Upgrade to SP2

    3. "As soon as you install SP2 on a Windows XP PC with a certain
    configuration, your file and printer sharing data are visible worldwide,
    despite an activated Firewall."

    I think = Ports 137, 138,139, 445 are open and unfiltered on any interface,
    file and printer sharing is available for network login from any network (I

    4. "This also applies to all other services." Now, all ports and running
    services are available on all interfaces?

    5. "The PC only has to provide sharing for an internal local network and
    connect to the Internet via dial-up or ISDN" Now, ICS is enabled?? On the
    dial-up of ISDN??? Or do they mean have file and print sharing enabled on
    an interface (trusted interface = internal)? Wha?

    6. "Additionally, Internet Connection Sharing of the PC has to be disabled."
    OK, must mean no ICS.

    So, without building a default XP build adding SP1 and then doing the above
    upgrade to verify, I think the bulletin is saying that SP2 upgrades with ICF
    off and ICS enabled, that this setup will not propagate a 'secure by
    default' configuration upon upgrade. Certainly, the configuration can
    easily be fixed and the risk mitigated, but unsophisticated users will never
    know to fix this on their own (or not 'secure by default').

    To speculate, maybe the starting configuration, which bridges interfaces and
    therefore doesn't allow access control in the default MS implementation, has
    the interface objects in a state that passes object properties to all
    objects in the upgrade rather than just the SP2's expected object set.

    Fred Langston, CISSP
    Principal Consultant
    VeriSign, Inc. Global Security Consulting
    M: 425.765.3330 O: 206.903.8147 x223

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Laura A. Robinson []
    Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 5:14 PM
    To: 'Thor';
    Subject: RE: Serious Security Issue in Windows XP SP2's Firewall

    Inline with snippage... (but in a nutshell, your instincts are correct, Tim)

    > > In other words, this caused the service to be released
    > worldwide through
    > > the dial-up connection as soon as you were connected to the
    > Internet.

    Um, what are these people smoking? They're saying that when you establish a
    point-to-point dial-up connection and have F&P Sharing enabled, you're
    somehow magically exposing your machine to the planet?? Am I
    misunderstanding their claim?

    > > Microsoft at that time issued an update to patch the bug.
    > The fact that
    > > file and printer sharing since then is not connected to the dial-up
    > > connection anymore, can easily be seen on your system:
    > Right-click on the
    > > symbol "My Network Places" and select "Properties". Repeat
    > the right-click
    > > and selection with the icon of your dial-up connection and
    > select the tab
    > > "Settings". If there is no check at "File and Printer Sharing", it
    > > indicates that this service should not be made available
    > through your
    > > dial-up connection.

    I cannot confirm or deny that this is a default setting as I have FPS
    disabled on all of my connections and do not recall what the default
    settings were.

    > >
    > > This in fact is true for Windows XP without Service Pack.
    > Since SP1, this
    > > configuration is hardly more than cosmetics and does not
    > serve any purpose
    > > anymore. This means, the file and printer sharing service
    > >is connected in
    > > general, also to the dial-up network adapter.

    Okay, call me thick or confused, but what does this mean? What are they
    talking about- A dial-up adapter, or a network adapter? Is this a
    translation thing? I have absolutely no idea what the above is supposed to

    >> This in
    > itself is a serious
    > > bug, since your shared data potentially could be seen on
    > the Internet.

    Gee, now it's not "the world" and it's only "potentially"?

    > > However, there are no catastrophic effects, as every
    > dial-up connection is
    > > configured with an activated firewall by default.
    > >
    > > If you intended to deactivate this firewall, Windows
    > displayed an easily
    > > recognizable dialog, that this choice would allow access to
    > your computer.
    > > Despite the bug in SP1, the configuration of the firewall
    > was worked out
    > > in a clean way: You were able to run the dial-up connection with a
    > > firewall and the internal network card without, because the
    > latter was
    > > supposed to enable access through the Windows network.

    Okay, fine, whatever. I have some of my connections firewalled and others
    not. That didn't change with SP2.

    > >
    > > SP1 + SP2 leads to a catastrophic error
    > >
    > > Due to the bug carried over from SP1 as well as a new bug,
    > the firewall
    > > configuration with SP2 has a catastrophic effect. The SP2
    > installation
    > > simply uses the previous configuration of the firewall: If
    > it was active
    > > for the dial-up connection, now it also has been activated
    > for the network
    > > adapter.

    Are they talking about the enabling of the firewall? If so, they're wrong.
    Are they talking about the enabling of FPS system-wide? If so, they're
    wrong. Are they saying that *if* a luser, er, user were to do something like
    go and enable FPS on a dial-up connection but not on a LAN connection, that
    installing SP2 would then enable FPS on the network connection, as well? If
    so, I have no idea if it's true as I'd not do something like that. However,
    I see nothing on my system to indicate that this is true.

    > >
    > > At the same time, an exception is determined for file and
    > printer sharing:
    > > For the internal network card - and astonishingly also for
    > all adapters.

    Not on my machine. At all.

    > >
    > > With the first use of the dial-up connection after
    > installing SP2, all of
    > > your shared data are available on the Internet.

    Okay, this is just a stupid statement.

    > Now, other
    > users can start
    > > guessing your passwords for administrator and guest and you
    > basically are
    > > no more secure than the first Windows 95 users with an Internet
    > > connection - thanks to Service Pack 2.

    See above.

    > >
    > > How to correct the problem
    > >
    > > It is not advisable to keep this defective default
    > configuration. However,
    > > the previous environment cannot be restored: The
    > configuration for the
    > > firewall was changed, which does not allow the setting of active or
    > > inactive conditions or exceptions for each network adapter
    > anymore. Now
    > > this only works for network areas.

    BZZZZZZT! Wrong again, kiddies. They need to investigate the Advanced tab in
    the Windows firewall better. I just allowed 3389 on one and only one of my
    connectoids. In *fact*, on that Advanced tab, the very first chunk of text

    "Windows firewall is enabled for the selected connections below. To add
    exceptions for an individual connection, select it, and then click

    You can even <gasp!> *pre*-set exceptions for connections on which the
    firewall is not currently enabled! Neat-OH!

    > >
    > > Choose "Windows Firewall" in the in the Windows Control
    > Panel and the
    > > there the tab "Exceptions". Select "File and Print
    > Services" and click on
    > > "Edit". Now you can see four ports which are used by the
    > file and print
    > > sharing service.
    > >
    > > To lock the service to the outside and keep it open for the
    > internal LAN,
    > > you have to individually select and change its area with
    > the respective
    > > button.

    And the point is?

    > >Our reader Yves Jerschov notified us of another
    > > bug: The value for
    > > the area set by default "Only for own network (Subnet)"
    > only works, if the
    > > Internet Connection Sharing is activated.

    My apparently magic computer disagrees with Yves. I do not have ICS on any
    of my connections. I do, however, have "Only for own network (subnet)"
    available for each exception. I click the little radio button and SHAZAM! It

    This is ridiculously easy to test. (even when it involves hobbling on
    crutches from one room to another- only for you, T., do I do these things.
    ;-) )

    1. Make sure that the XPSP2 box has Remote Desktop enabled.
    2. In the Windows Firewall exceptions, ensure that your connection (I
    recommend having only one active connection during this testing for obvious
    reasons) allows Remote Desktop (TCP 3389) from "the world".
    3. Go to a machine on another subnet and remote in to the XP box. Verify
    4. Okay, now the fun part. Since you're already remoted into the XP box,
    change the firewall setting to (subnet) for TCP 3389.
    5. Disconnect your session.
    6. Attempt to reconnect. Oh, my goodness, it doesn't work anymore. Must be
    that there firewall thingie that don't werk unless you use ICS on one of
    your connections. Puhleeze.

    > > If this is not
    > the case, your
    > > shared data are visible worldwide.

    Aside from the fact that their premise is incorrect, this is not quite the
    case even if it *were* correct.

    > > This error can be
    > corrected by choosing
    > > "User defined List" and entering the IP addresses that are
    > supposed to
    > > have access - the IP addresses of your LAN. A whole range
    > of an IP area
    > > can be entered as "192.168.x.0/", if the
    > respective addresses
    > > start with 192.168.x.

    See above.

    > >
    > > After these measures, you can be sure to be as safe as you
    > were with SP1.
    > > Great, don't you think?

    I think I'd really like to know what these guys consider a testing

    I call bullpucky.




  • Next message: Depp, Dennis M.: "RE: Items within XP SP2 and Win2003"

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