If You Are Using WINS, You Are Not WINNING
WINS, or Windows Internet Name Service exists so that NetBIOS hosts can communicate with TCP/IP hosts. Wait, did we just step into the network protocol time machine? In fact, we did! NetBIOS was developed for IBM in 1983 by a company called Sytec, and later adopted by Microsoft (See "Understanding NetBIOS and Windows Server 2003" for more historical information on our journey back in time). So the big question remains, why are people still running WINS and/or NetBIOS? My guess is that a vendor provided you a solution, stuck you with an operating system that is old and outdated, and now you’re stuck maintaining the application and operating system (refer to Rafal Los's great post: Supporting "Unmaintainable" Applications).
Any time you can enable yourself to rid the network and systems of old protocols, it’s a win for security. The harder part is ridding your network of the things that rely on those protocols. Once you get there however, not only will you have a network that is easier to maintain (lets face it, WINS was one more thing to go wrong with Windows networking), it will be slightly more secure as well.
MS11-035 addresses a privately reported, remotely exploitable, vulnerability in WINS, as if the attackers need something else they "could" exploit.
MS11-036 addresses a vulnerability in PowerPoint. Having spent more hours than I care to admit developing presentations and training material, I have one suggestion: "To the cloud!" Maybe it’s time we started looking at different options for developing presentations, like a neat service called Prezi or even the more traditional Google Docs. But then we'd have to have the "what data do you store in the cloud" discussion. However, you wouldn't have to worry about the latest PowerPoint patch.
To further aid in your efforts to evaluate the exposures presented by the vulnerabilities addressed by Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, Tenable's Research team has published Nessus plugins for each of the security bulletins issued this month:
- MS11-035 - Vulnerability in WINS Could Allow Remote Code Execution - Nessus Plugin ID 53858 (Credentialed Check)
- MS11-036 - Vulnerabilities in Microsoft PowerPoint Could Allow Remote Code Execution - Nessus Plugin ID 53859 (Credentialed Check)
- Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for May 2011
- OSVDB Microsoft Bulletins - Complete Reference
- May 2011 Security Bulletin Release (Microsoft Security Response Center Blog)