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July 18, 2006

Viruses Hide, Microsoft Buys, and Symantec Criticizes

Some things just converge in the tech biz.  Researchers at F-Secure have discovered a virus that actually installs itself as a rootkit on a Windows machine outside of the lab.  Called Backdoor.Rustock.A, it uses a variety of techniques to avoid detection using standard means.  What's even more interesting is that it can run on the betas of Windows Vista.  So much for the focus on security for that one.

Rootkits came into the public conscience when Sony used that type of installation to load DRM software on consumer machines.  That lead to a number of lawsuits and even a condemnation from representatives of the Department of Homeland Security.  That rootkit was discovered by Mark Russinovich who works for Winternals, a provider of administration add-ons and other security related programs for Windows.  Many useful and free Windows utilities are available at Sysinternals which is a related web site.

Microsoft announced today that it acquired Winternals and Sysinternals.  Russinovich will join the staff at Microsoft working with Windows development.  This is not a bad thing as Windows Vista, while still in beta, does not look ready for prime time.

In the same vein, Symantec reported that Windows Vista may be less secure than Windows XP in networking components.  Microsoft notes that the product is still in beta and that some of the flaws have been addressed in subsequent builds.  Symantec says it takes years to build a good network stack, sort of like no wine will ship before its time, or in January which is Vista's target release date.  Maybe it's the way the news reports are written that makes Microsoft sound a bit defensive on this one.  We'll see what shape Vista's in when it comes out.

All in all, viruses as rootkits are a bad thing, Microsoft employing Mark Russinovich is a good thing, and Symantec's evaluation of stability is a bad thing unless it gets Microsoft to make Vista stable, which is a good thing.  This all sounds like a sketch from the Anamaniacs (see the Hooray for North Hollywood episode) except that it's software and not pitching movies.

July 18, 2006 | Permalink

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