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July 5, 2006

Operating System Phone Home Continued

Microsoft was just hit with a second spyware claim over its Windows Genuine Advantage tool.  This time the case was filed in federal district court in Washington State.  Of course, the filers are seeking class action status.  Hackers are apparently getting into the fun as well.  A new worm is using AOL's Instant Messenger to masquerade as the Microsoft tool and installing itself on target machines.  Once there it can download malicious programs and be used for denial of service attacks.  Microsoft says it will scan and clean for the worm in the next release of its malicious software removal download.

In other news, Apple is unsettling some of its users with word that OS version 10.4.7 has a new feature called Dashboard Advisory which checks to make sure the widgets on someone's machine are genuine and up to date.  No personal information is collected according to Apple.  It is odd, though, that the check takes place every eight hours without announcement and cannot be turned off.

Is the future of operating systems going to be constant communication with their manufacturers?  It's certainly possible with one way licensing agreements.  While a company claims to be committed to an individual's privacy, that claim is based on a set of principles that could easily change as the needs of the manufacturer and even the government change in relation to data collection.  Slippery slopes anyone?

July 5, 2006 | Permalink

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