Microsoft has donated a highly restricted Vista kernel in an attempt to improve security in its new operating system. This additional security has managed to block hackers, malware providers, and has apparently locked in the security software as well.
Competing security software vendors say Vista’s security system alone is not enough to protect consumers from threats. Security firm Webroot Software announced in January that its Vista security tests revealed significant loopholes in its security shields. Tests have shown that Vista has ineffective blocking capabilities and weak antivirus capabilities in Vista’s standard antispyware and antivirus components. Webroot also found issues with Microsoft’s Live OneCare security package.
Webroot said Windows Defender failed to block 84% of the test sample set, which includes 15 of the most common variants of existing spyware and malware. On top of that, Windows Defender did not perform at the level of many third-party security applications.
Webroot also said that Windows Vista allows various threats to pass through its security shields and go unnoticed in its test environment. These threats include adware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), system monitors, key loggers, and Trojans. These results come after Windows Live OneCare was recently last in one of the latest antivirus applications.
Webroot also said that Microsoft’s additional charges for Vista users for antivirus protection through a subscription service are a potential security weakness, as users may be reluctant to make this purchase.
According to Pradhan of Max Secure, Microsoft’s attempts to block third-party security providers raise questions about fairness. However, he believes the strategy will be short-lived.
“Microsoft should have learned that the approach is not the best way. I see Microsoft changing because consumers will see that they have a choice,” Pradhan said. “Microsoft offers a defective system. Users will force Microsoft to open access to the kernel when infections and attacks continue.”
On the other hand, Marco Peretti, CEO of BeyondTrust, does not see Microsoft’s decision to block access to the Vista kernel so harmful. Peretti believes that Microsoft made kernel access in the 32-bit version of Vista more difficult than in Windows XP.
“Microsoft is blocking the kernel only on 64-bit, not 32-bit platforms. For Microsoft, 64-bit Vista is the future,” Peretti said, adding that 2007 and 2008 will see mass adoption of 64-bit operating systems. Vista system.
The problem with the 64-bit version of Vista is caused by the fuse he uses, according to John Safa, a security expert and chief architect at DriveSentry. This patch protection prevents patching of key system functions of programs that are also used by hackers to create rootkits.
Safa also claims that these same features have also been patched by security providers to detect threats that they cannot now make. In response, Microsoft said it intends to provide access to security providers on a 64-bit version of Vista until it launches Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. Service Pack 1 is currently scheduled for release in the second half of 2007.
Safa claims that third-party security providers are to blame for not developing strategies to address Vista’s 32-bit compatibility issues. It also notes that third-party security providers are adapting their products to work with kernel limitations in the 32-bit version. “There’s no real reason why security vendors can’t prepare their product for 32-bit Vista,” he said.
Safa is examining Microsoft’s claim that it has locked Vista, which is equivalent to making an open invitation to the hacker community to prove it wrong. Safa notes: “In this high stakes game, real money can be won and the rules have changed completely. Today’s threat of malware has become a destructive force that precedes even the best antivirus signatures, leaving users’ personal data completely exposed to zero-day attacks. “
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