Sample Research Paper on Windows 7 Security

Windows 7 Security

Introduction

Windows 7, an operating system (OS), was initially developed by Microsoft in the year 2009. It was intended to be an improvement of the Windows Vista type of OS. It is developed upon the characteristics in addition to the devise values of Windows Vista along with other additional upgrading. Windows 7 is mainly devised for individual and workplace clients. It is the first Windows operating system that supported the sixty-four bit Intel architecture. In terms of its characteristics, it is very comparable to Windows Vista, though it has numerous improvements including Libraries and Jump lists among others (Howard & Lipner, 2009).

Security Issues

Windows-based OS is normally affected with issues of security faults as well as susceptibilities. This is majorly for the reason that the systems were not established with secure computing in consideration. It is also a common target for hackers as a result of these faults. Windows 7 was developed for the purpose of tackling these faulty issues in accordance with a Secure Development Life Cycle (SDLC) such as the enforcement of a strict code review of all the newly introduced codes, and the review of the initial OS code (Howard & Lipner, 2009).

Windows 7 Security Features

These include:

  1. Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) – this employs Data Execution Protection (DEP), so long as the hardware matches it and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) by defaulting to assist in the protection of unauthorized code execution and integrates the newly introduced anti-phishing technique and enhanced constraints on the ActiveX controls.
  2. AppLocker – this substitutes the software control guidelines and offers enhanced suppleness for the purpose of governing the applications that are permitted to be operational, and from which locations (Pham et al, 2010).
  • Domain Name System (DNS) safety annexes – these is intended to put off DNS spoofing including cache interference, through the provision of data honesty for the DNS user resolvers through automatically registered feedbacks to DNS enquiries (Howard & Lipner, 2009).
  1. Bitlocker –this offers encryption support for huge percentage storage appliances including USB flash disks as well as the external hard disks. It helps in safeguarding the secret keys. This can be utilized together with the Encrypting File System (EFS) to offer enhanced security (Böck & Austria, 2009).
  2. Enhanced User Account Control (UAC) – maintains the same safety levels with minimal prompts. This is attained through the reduction of the number of applications that needs prominent licence, as well as the modification of the risk levels for UAC prompts (Lipner, 2004).
  3. Smart card improvements – this allows for automatic plug-and-play fixing without the need for client involvement.

Major Security Advancements

DEP

During the implementation of a procedure, it usually contains numerous memory locations that lack executable code. Attackers utilize these locations for the intention of initiating code inclusion attacks.  After the insertion of the random code, they can perform attacks, which include Buffer overflows. DEP is a safety technique utilized in the prevention of code implementation from these kinds of data sections. This can be made possible through marking the data pages as not being able to be executed which makes it difficult for the code to be operational in those memory locations. DEP is meant to be incorporated with other mechanisms including ASLR as well as SEHOP. When incorporated it makes it very hard for attacks to take advantage the application utilizing memory attacks (Böck & Austria, 2009).

ASLR

This is a process meant to enhance security from the popular memory based attacks which includes buffer overflows as well as stack smashing. The initial versions of Windows fundamental system processes frequently utilized determinable memory locations for their execution. This allowed the attackers to easily identify the essential parts of the process, which includes the program stack and heap. Such addresses can then be utilized to begin on buffer overflows attacks. For the purpose of overcoming this issue, ASLR was introduced. ASLR is meant to randomize a number of parts of the program comprising the stack, heap and libraries among other parts. This makes it complex to foretell memory addresses. Integrating ASLR and DEP makes it much complex to perform memory interferences. For the utilization of ASLR, it is significant for programs to be compiled employing the ASLR flag. It is only with this that randomization can happen in the process of program runtime. Windows 7 entirely allows for ASLR based appliances as well as libraries (Pham et al, 2010).

Structured Exception Handler Overwrite Protection (SEHOP)

This is a system utilized in preventing malicious clients from being able to exploit SEH overwrites, which was initially established in Windows XP. From that time, it has become among the most common exploits used by hackers. A number of exploits frameworks which includes Metasploit employs SEH overwrite practice for the purpose of executing code remotely. SEH operates through the subversion of thirty two bit exception method offered by the Microsoft OS. Its exploits are usually performed by the use of stack-based buffer overflow attacks for the purpose of overwriting an exception listing documentation that is kept in the thread’s stack (Pham et al, 2010).

The exception listing documentation comprises 2 records, the subsequent pointer as well as the exception handler also known as exception dispatcher. The hacker may attempt overwriting the exception dispatcher and attempt an exemption. There exist two techniques of stopping SEH exploitations. One of these two techniques necessitates the application to be compiled by the utilization of SAFESEH flag at the time of the linking phase. This may not be feasible for the reason that it needs the recompilation of the complete application. The other technique is utilized by SEHOP. In this process, dynamic checks are per6formed for the purpose of ensuring that a thread’s exception handler listing is not crooked prior t7o recognizing it. SEHOP can be activated automatically on Windows 7 OS. It can be deactivated if need be by modifying the registry codes (McGraw, 2006).

UAC

This is a safety feature that was initially established in Windows Vista for the purpose of limiting administrative rights only to the certified users. If an application attempts to carry out a administrative act, the rightful client must verify before the action is allowed. This is helpful, as it puts off malicious files implementing actions with administrative functionalities. UAC operates by permitting impermanent administrative accessibility to the concerned client if he/she has the ability of authenticating himself/herself at the time of UAC prompt (Lipner, 2004). Some of the acts that can activate UAC alerts include; operating an application as an administrator, installation and uninstallation of an application, installation of device drivers as well as ActiveX controls, making changes to the UAC settings and windows firewalls, configuration of windows updates, addition or removal of user accounts, configuration of parental controls making changes of the client’s account type, restoration of the saved system files and accessing another client’s folders and files. UAC also brings in the conception of safe desktop, in which the complete desktop is muted at the time of UAC prompt allowing the user to specifically interrelate with the elevation window. The usual functionalities are not able to interrelate with the safe desktop. This puts off spoofing interferences; UAC is activated automatically, though it can be deactivated from the control panel; however it is not suitable to do so. UAC is comparable in its operation to sudo directive that is available in UNIX operators (Shimonski, 2010).

DNS System Security Enhancement (DNS SEC)

This is a set of requirements utilized in securing information that is offered by the DNS system. DNS SEC resolution was initially developed for windows 7 as well as windows server 2008 R2. It operates by the utilization of extensions for the purpose of enhancing the defaults of the DNS system in order to present the DNS users particular features including Authentication and data integrity. The initial DNS system was not established with the security consideration, which resulted in heavy exploitation of the DNS systems. DNS SEC therefore endeavours to put in safety for the DNS visit. The accurate DNS record is authenticated by the use of string of trust, which operates with a set of confirmed codes from the DNS key zone which is the trusted 3rd party (McGraw, 2006).

Windows Firewall

Windows 7 has a novel firewall, which is an spyware-resistant as well as adware-resistant application that is built-in as part of the OS itself. The windows firewall can be updated just like an anti-virus solution (Böck & Austria, 2009).

References

Böck, B., & Austria, S. B. (2009). Firewire-based physical security attacks on windows 7, efs and bitlocker. Secure Business Austria Research Lab.

Howard, M., & Lipner, S. (2009). The security development lifecycle. O’Reilly Media, Incorporated.

Lipner, S. (2004, December). The trustworthy computing security development lifecycle. In Computer Security Applications Conference, 2004. 20th Annual (pp. 2-13). IEEE.

McGraw, G. (2006). Software security: building security in (Vol. 1). Addison-Wesley Professional.

Pham, D. V., Halgamuge, M. N., Syed, A., & Mendis, P. (2010, July). Optimizing windows security features to block malware and hack tools on USB storage devices. In Progress in electromagnetics research symposium.

Shimonski, R. (2010, March 31). Windows 7 Security Primer. Retrieved from http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles-tutorials/misc_network_security/Windows-7-Security-Primer-Part1.html