Hacker conferences are often forums for revealing, and learning about, the latest security exploits and techniques, not the least the Black Hat Technical Security Conference 2011, which is being held this week in Washington, D.C.

Such events can also serve as a way to distribute free products to help corporate security personnel better police their domains. That's what Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is doing at this year's Black Hat D.C. conference.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) quietly announced this week that it has released betas of three updated security testing tools, targeting security professionals and ISVs in an attempt to encourage development of less vulnerable software.


First up is a version of a tool that Microsoft says it has used internally for the past five years.

"The Attack Surface Analyzer beta is a Microsoft verification tool now available for ISVs and IT professionals to highlight the changes in system state, runtime parameters and securable objects on the Windows operating system," said a post to Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) blog, Monday.

"This analysis helps developers, testers and IT professionals identify increases in the attack surface caused by installing applications on a machine ... The tool also gives an overview of the changes to the system Microsoft considers important to the security of the platform and highlights these in the attack surface report. "

Microsoft also released a beta of version 3.1.6 of its SDL Threat Modeling Tool, which enables developers to perform early, structured analysis and "proactive mitigation of potential security and privacy issues in new and existing applications," another post to the same blog said.

The updated threat modeling tool now supports Microsoft's Visio 2010 for designing diagrams.

Meanwhile, a third tool, called the BinScope Binary Analyzer 1.2, also debuted in beta at Black Hat, adding compatibility with the latest release of Microsoft's development environment, Visual Studio 2010.

"The BinScope tool is available in two forms: a stand-alone version and as an add-on that integrates fully with Visual Studio," the post said. "In addition, it integrates with Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2008 and Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 to output results into work items."

Both the threat level tool as well as the binary analyzer are due to ship in final form this fall. Microsoft did not give a general availability date for the attack surface analyzer.

Beyond that, Microsoft announced that beginning on Feb. 21, it will start offering SDL consulting services.

Of course, Black Hat rarely goes by without one or more controversies popping up.

For instance, a German security specialist planned to give attendees code that they can run on high-performance cloud computer systems to help them break Wi-Fi passwords using massive computer power available for a few dollars.

Additionally, at last winter's conference, a security researcher disclosed a zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer.

The Microsoft Attack Surface Analyzer is available here, while the Microsoft SDL Threat Modeling Tool is available for download here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's BinScope Binary Analyzer is also available from Microsoft's download site.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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