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Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0 Released

  • SDL Team

Last year we released a beta version of our free Attack Surface Analyzer tool.  The purpose of this tool is to help software developers, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and IT Professionals better understand changes in Windows systems’ attack surface resulting from the installation of new applications.   Since the initial launch of Attack Surface Analyzer, we have received quite a bit of positive feedback on the value it has provided to customers.  Today we are pleased to announce that the beta period has ended and Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0 is now available for download.

File Name      Size        
 Attack_Surface_Analyzer_x86.msi 1.8MB
 Attack_Surface_Analyzer_x64.msi 1.8MB
 Attack_Surface_Analyzer_ReadMe.docx 224KB



This release includes performance enhancements and bug fixes to improve the user experience.  Through improvements in the code, we were able to reduce the number of false positives and improve Graphic User Interface performance.  This release also includes in-depth documentation and guidance to improve ease of use.   For more information regarding the improvements see the ReadMe document.

The Attack Surface Analyzer tool is designed to assist independent software vendors (ISVs) and other software developers during the verification phase of the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) as they evaluate the changes their software makes to the attack surface of a computer.  Because Attack Surface Analyzer does not require source code or symbol access, IT professionals and security auditors can also use the tool to gain a better understanding of the aggregate attack surface change that may result from the introduction of line-of-business (LOB) applications to the Windows platform.

Unlike many tools that analyze a system based on signatures or known vulnerabilities, Attack Surface Analyzer looks for classes of security weaknesses Microsoft has seen when applications are installed on the Windows operating system, and it highlights these as issues. The tool also gives an overview of changes to the system that Microsoft considers important to the security of the platform, and it highlights these changes in the attack surface report. Some of the checks performed by the tool include analysis of changed or newly added files, registry keys, services, Microsoft ActiveX controls, listening ports and other parameters that affect a computer’s attack surface.

The tool has a stand-alone wizard to help guide users through the scanning and analysis process; a command-line version supports automation and older versions of Windows, and assists IT professionals as they integrate the tool with existing enterprise management tools.   Examples of the wizard can be seen below:

The image on the left below displays the Attack Surface Analyzer tool wizard at startup.  Once a new scan is run, the right image is displayed.  The tool should be run before new products are installed to provide a baseline.  Then install the products and run a new scan to identify changes in the attack surface..

The image on the left below is the screen in the tool users will see when the scan has completed.  From here users can select “generate report” to get the full details of the scan.  The image to the right represents an example of the attack surface report. 

The Attack Surface Analyzer enables:

  • Developers to view changes in the attack surface resulting from the introduction of their code on to the Windows platform
  • IT Professionals to assess the aggregate attack surface change by the installation of an organization’s line of business applications
  • IT Security Auditors to evaluate the risk of a particular piece of software installed on the Windows platform during threat risk reviews
  • IT Security Incident Responders to gain a better understanding of the state of a systems security during investigations (if a baseline scan was taken of the system during the deployment phase)

Whether you are a new Attack Surface Analyzer user or an existing customer, we hope you take advantage of the many great features this free tool has to offer in helping you reduce the attack surface of your systems.


Monty LaRue & Jimmie Lee
Trustworthy Computing Security