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We had to lock this software to open it

Microsoft releases tool to lock IIS

Microsoft, whose web server and security products have been stung recently by a series of high-profile flaws, released a security tool yesterday, the second time in as many weeks the company has done so.

The new tool, called IIS Lockdown, is targeted at homes and small businesses and is intended for use with the company's IIS (internet information server) software — the web server software that the Code Red worm attacked successfully in July and August.

Code Red used a month-old vulnerability in IIS to infect servers and spread itself across the world. With IIS Lockdown Code Red could never have happened, because the security hole, even if it had been unpatched, would not have been vulnerable, Microsoft said.

IIS Lockdown aims to do just what its name would lead one to believe: lock down the IIS configuration on a system, making it unchangeable and inaccessible. The software offers two configuration options, Express Lockdown and Advanced Lockdown. Express Lockdown is a one-click, general security setting. Advanced Lockdown gives administrators the option to pick and choose the services that will be enabled on the system, Microsoft said.

The software checks a server's configuration against a checklist of security practices provided by Microsoft to create secure systems, said Scott Culp, security program manager at the Microsoft security response center. The checklist, which is also available on Microsoft websites as a standalone document, is included in the IIS Lockdown tool, rather than requiring the tool to reference a Web site, he said.

After consulting the checklist, IIS Lockdown turns off all unnecessary or potentially hazardous services, leaving just core IIS functions, Culp said. The software also includes an extensive help system which gives detailed information about what each component does and in which situations it would be used, he said.

IIS Lockdown is available at Microsoft's site.


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