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Friday, 24 September 2021 08:00

Sec firm defends release of Exchange flaw details without telling Microsoft Featured

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Sec firm defends release of Exchange flaw details without telling Microsoft Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A researcher at a security firm that disclosed an issue with a protocol in the Microsoft Exchange mail server software has defended not having made contact with the company before releasing his findings, saying the issue had been known for seven years.

Guardicore's associate vice-president of Security Research, Amit Serper, said in a tweet thread that Microsoft had plenty of time to either fix or address the issue, by releasing patches or else buying all the Autodiscover top-level domains. The latter option was being pursued by the Redmond firm right now, he added.

On Wednesday, Guardicore released details of a flaw in an implementation of the Autodiscover protocol based on the POX XML protocol, that it said would leak Web requests to Autodiscover domains outside a user's domain, but within the same top-level domain.

In the post, Serper also mentioned that four years ago, researchers from Share Security had shared details of how Autodiscover implementations for mobile email clients could cause such leaks.

Microsoft has not publicly released any reaction to Serper's findings, but told the CIA-funded technology website The Record that "this issue was not reported to us before the researcher marketing team presented it to the media, so we learned of the claims today".

Neither Microsoft nor Guardicore have responded to emails from iTWire seeking comment.

Serper said Microsoft had come after him personally on LinkedIn, a site owned by Microsoft, as well. "Coming after me personally is disgusting and rather shocking to be honest... especially when there are research papers, blackhat talks, and news articles that are proving that these issues were known," he commented.

Share Security presented their findings at the annual Black Hat conference.

Serper said he was scheduled to meet staff of the Microsoft Security Response Centre soon.

The Guardicore blog post also had mentioned viable mitigations, he said, and these could be put in place "fairly quickly and can help to significantly remove the risk of exposure right now".

"Now, after almost 7 years, Microsoft are taking these issues seriously, buying domains and hopefully fixing these issues," Serper added.

"My view on the way Microsoft interacts with the research community had changed dramatically following this incident and I'll have to figure out how to approach these issues in the future. Now, I'd like to get on with my life so here are my cats."

And he tweeted out a picture of his cats!


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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