Seven years after releasing version 1.0, Microsoft has published version 2.0 of its Attack Surface Analyzer utility, a tool that logs the changes made to a Windows OS during the installation of third-party applications.
Released at the end of April, Attack Surface Analyzer 2.0 marks the end of a long development cycle during which Microsoft engineers rewrote the utility using .NET Core and Electron, two cross-platform technologies; meaning the tool now also runs on macOS and Linux, besides Windows.
Over the last seven years, the tool has had an essential role in the daily work of system administrators and malware hunters. Its ability to track changes made to an operating system's configuration helped many professionals identify potential security risks and flag suspicious apps before they got any chance of doing serious damage.
Furthermore, the tool was also popular with app developers, especially in the testing phase, helping many app makers identify and patch buggy code that could have ended up in crashing end-users systems.
The new Attack Surface Analyzer 2.0 is pretty straightforward to use. The entire tool is just two sections -- one for scanning a system, and one for displaying the results.
The scan section supports two types of scans, a static scan, and a live monitoring mode.
Static scans can be used to detect changes made between a before and after state. Users are supposed to scan a system before installing an app, and after the app's installation. This will produce a report showing the changes between the two states.
The second scan mode is called Live Monitoring, and as the name suggests, records changes made to a Windows OS in real time.
The Results section lists changes made to various key areas of a Windows OS, such as:
Network Ports (listeners)
System Certificate Stores
Besides the Electron-based GUI app, Microsoft engineers have also released an improved CLI tool that can be used as part of automated toolchains.
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