Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Security loophole found in Windows operating system

A group of researchers headed by Dr. Benny Pinkas from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Haifa succeeded in finding a security vulnerability in Microsoft's "Windows 2000" operating system.

The significance of the loophole: emails, passwords, credit card numbers, if they were typed into the computer, and actually all correspondence that emanated from a computer using "Windows 2000" is susceptible to tracking. "This is not a theoretical discovery. Anyone who exploits this security loophole can definitely access this information on other computers," remarked Dr. Pinkas.

Various security vulnerabilities in different computer operating systems have been discovered over the years. Previous security breaches have enabled hackers to follow correspondence from a computer from the time of the breach onwards. This newly discovered loophole, exposed by a team of researchers which included, along with Dr. Pinkas, Hebrew University graduate students Zvi Gutterman and Leo Dorrendorf, enables hackers to access information that was sent from the computer prior to the security breach and even information that is no longer stored on the computer.

The researchers found the security loophole in the random number generator of Windows. This is a program which is, among other things, a critical building block for file and email encryption, and for the SSL encryption protocol which is used by all Internet browsers. For example: in correspondence with a bank or any other website that requires typing in a password, or a credit card number, the random number generator creates a random encryption key, which is used to encrypt the communication so that only the relevant website can read the correspondence. The research team found a way to decipher how the random number generator works and thereby compute previous and future encryption keys used by the computer, and eavesdrop on private communication.

"There is no doubt that hacking into a computer using our method requires advanced planning. On the other hand, simpler security breaches also require planning, and I believe that there is room for concern at large companies, or for people who manage sensitive information using their computers, who should understand that the privacy of their data is at risk," explained Dr. Pinkas.

According to the researchers, who have already notified the Microsoft security response team about their discovery, although they only checked "Windows 2000" (which is currently the third most popular operating system in use) they assume that newer versions of "Windows", XP and Vista, use similar random number generators and may also be vulnerable.

Their conclusion is that Microsoft needs to improve the way it encodes information. They recommend that Microsoft publish the code of their random number generators as well as of other elements of the "Windows" security system to enable computer security experts outside Microsoft to evaluate their effectiveness.

Dr. Amir Gilat | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>