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October 30, 2006

Vista 64 Bit Security Hacked and Other Developments

Security vendor Authentium claims that it has found a way through Microsoft's PatchGuard protection in the 64 bit version of Vista.  The company will disable PatchGuard, install its kernel patches, and then re-enable PatchGuard.  Access to the kernel in Vista has been a contentious matter with Symantec and McAfee claiming Microsoft has an unfair advantage with its own security products.  Microsoft has said that it doesn't compromise PatchGuard with its software.

Microsoft can't be thrilled that it has to patch a product that hasn't been released.  It has promoted Vista as the most secure operating system yet.  In fact, some news reports indicate that Microsoft was somewhere between furious and intrigued by Authentium's claims.  This comes on the heels of reports that the scheduled release-to-manufacturing for October 25th was delayed until November 8th to track down a serious bug.  The software is generally scheduled to be available to consumers some time in January, 2007.  What shape and how secure it will be is still a matter open to question.

The Christmas season will come and go without Vista on consumer PCs.  Microsoft is offering an upgrade coupon for Vista capable machines sold between October 26th and March 26th.  Recent reports, though, indicate that there will be no upgrade path to Vista Ultimate via coupon.  Gartner has also weighed in on 64 bit Vista, suggesting that there may not be enough compatible products out there to work with that version of the software, and that it may take years for the security and antitrust problems to work themselves out.

In other Vista related news, Microsoft released Media Player 11 for XP.  The player is in Vista but will be available to XP via download.  It contains tight integration with the Urge music store that MTV and Microsoft created.  The store may also be irrelevant once Microsoft makes the Zune player and store available.  Is it possible that MTV might feel suckered on this one?

Stories covering various details here are in Ars Technica, TechWeb, the RegisterDaily Tech, CNET, and PC World.

October 30, 2006 | Permalink


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Microsoft security? Bwa ha ha ha, tell another one! No one who is serious about security even thinks of running Windows. So yes, this is news, but only in the dog-bites-man sense. I think it's pretty much accepted by everyone in the IT world that Vista will contain several root-level flaws when it finally does ship, and the first of those flaws will be exploited within days of the initial public release.

After all, Win95, Win98, NT, ME, 2000, and XP have all shipped with critical flaws granting root access to remote attackers. Why would Vista be any different?

Posted by: smiley | Nov 2, 2006 9:29:48 AM

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