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Microsoft looks to "monkeys" to find Web threats
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 5/20/2005 08:34:00 AM.

Researchers at Microsoft are creating their own version of a million monkeys to crawl the Internet looking for threats in an effort to secure the Web for Windows.

The software giant's Cybersecurity and Systems Management (CSM) research group are building a system of virtual Windows XP computers that crawl the Web looking for sites that use unreported vulnerabilities to compromise customer's PCs. Dubbed "honeymonkeys," the virtual machines run a full version of Windows XP with monitoring software and crawl high-risk areas of the Web looking for trouble.

"Just by visiting a Web site, (if) suddenly an executable is created on your machine outside the Internet Explorer folder, it is an exploit with no false positive -- it's that simple," Yi-Ming Wang, senior researcher with Microsoft Research, said during a presentation at the IEEE Security and Privacy conference in Oakland last week.

The research is part of Microsoft's continuing effort to rein in the potential effects of vulnerabilities in Windows XP. The software giant has already added a host of security measures to the consumer operating system with its August security update, Service Pack 2. This month, Microsoft also announced that it would provide interim guidance on security threats to its users in the form of security advisories. In addition, the company has made several attempts to reach out to vulnerability researchers to limit the release of flaw information before its product groups have had to a chance to fix security problems.

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