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Government hackers develop Windows 8 exploit – already

French firm Vupen, which works with government agencies to develop and thwart hacking techniques, has already developed a Windows 8 exploit for taking over machines running Internet Explorer 10. 

“We welcome #Windows 8 with various 0Ds combined to pwn all new Win8/IE10 exploit mitigations,” Vupen’s chief executive Chaouki Bekrar wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, employing hacker slang to squeeze it into 140 characters.

Bekrar has been boasting for weeks that his firm would compromise the new OS: “Windows 8 will be officially released by MS on Oct 26th, we’ll release to customers the 1st exploit for Win8 the same day #CoordinatedPwnage,” he tweeted earlier in the month.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 contains a slew of new security features, including a default anti-malware application called Windows Defender and a security measure known as Address Space Layout Randomization, which randomizes the location of programs’ executable commands within the memory in order to better evade exploits. Also, the latest version of Internet Explorer uses a “sandbox” mode to bog down hackers trying to attack a system through the browser.

However, clearly the OS is not impervious. And, in fact, at the Black Hat security conference this summer, white hat hackers ran through several theoretical exploits for Windows 8, taking into account the new security measures.

"The Windows 8 kernel is not fundamentally changing any of the algorithms" used in Windows 7, he said. "It's more of a hardened version of Windows 7 … [in that] you don't have any significant structur[al] changes, but you have a lot more checks," said Tarjei Mandt, a senior vulnerability researcher with information security consultancy Azimuth Security.

As for Microsoft, the software giant was not alerted to the vulnerabilities by Vupen, which sells its hacks and information to government agencies for a profit. “We saw [Vupen's] tweet, but further details have not been shared with us,” Microsoft’s director of Trustworthy Computing Dave Forstrom told Forbes. “We continue to encourage researchers to participate in Microsoft’s Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure program to help ensure our customers’ protection.”

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