Honest to God I don’t go around trying to pick on Windows for its security problems, but the hackers keep finding new ways to break into it. And, this time, they’ve found a doozie. Berend-Jan Wever, aka “Skylined,” a Google security software engineer has busted DEP (data execution prevention), one of the few significant security improvements Microsoft has made to Windows.
DEP, which was added to Windows back in August 2004 in XP SP2. It addressed the very common hacking technique of buffer overflows. In a buffer overflow attack, a malicious program tries to overwrite the buffer, the amount of memory a program has been allocated for running its code in. By so doing, a buffer overflow overwrites memory that may or may not have been allocated to other programs. In either case, it can then use this overwritten memory for its own purposes. Usually this means running malware or even taking over the computer itself.
While this problem isn’t unique to Windows, it can happen to almost any operating system without strict memory management controls, even with DEP, Windows has been prone to such attacks. Now, though, with DEP busted, it’s become even easier for a buffer attack to strike home.