Much vaunted Vista security will see challenges

9 02 2007

High-profile OS draws interest from both hackers and security experts

Computer hackers are off and running trying to find vulnerabilities in Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows Vista operating system, putting to test the software maker’s claim that it is the most secure Windows program ever.

The new version of Windows, the computer operating system that runs more than 95 percent of the world’s computers, became available to consumers on Tuesday after five years of development and a number of delays. (MSNBC.com is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)

A high-profile new product like Windows Vista draws interest from the entire spectrum of the computer security industry, ranging from hackers trying to exploit a breach for criminal means to researchers looking to make a name for themselves as security experts.

“For sure, people are hammering away on it,” said Jeff Moss, the organizer of Defcon, the world’s largest hacking convention. “If you are a bad guy and you find a problem, you have a way to spread your malware and spyware.”

Most security experts see Vista as a more secure operating system than its predecessor, Windows XP, but even Microsoft acknowledges it’s not impenetrable and attackers will undoubtedly look for a way in.

Attackers can use spyware programs to monitor a computer remotely and collect personal information on a user. They also can control machines remotely to attack Web sites, send spam e-mail or defraud online advertisers.

Vista’s comes with built-in anti-spyware software, and new account controls curb the ability of users to unintentionally install harmful programs. The high-end versions come with a feature called BitLocker that encrypts a computer’s hard drive in the case of a lost or stolen machine.

“We know from the outset that we won’t get the software code 100 percent right. No one does in the entire software industry … but Windows Vista has multiple layers of defense,” said Stephen Toulouse, senior product manager at Microsoft’s trustworthy computing group.

“For sure, people are hammering away on it,” said Jeff Moss, the organizer of Defcon, the world’s largest hacking convention. “If you are a bad guy and you find a problem, you have a way to spread your malware and spyware.”

Most security experts see Vista as a more secure operating system than its predecessor, Windows XP, but even Microsoft acknowledges it’s not impenetrable and attackers will undoubtedly look for a way in.

Attackers can use spyware programs to monitor a computer remotely and collect personal information on a user. They also can control machines remotely to attack Web sites, send spam e-mail or defraud online advertisers.

Vista’s comes with built-in anti-spyware software, and new account controls curb the ability of users to unintentionally install harmful programs. The high-end versions come with a feature called BitLocker that encrypts a computer’s hard drive in the case of a lost or stolen machine.

“We know from the outset that we won’t get the software code 100 percent right. No one does in the entire software industry … but Windows Vista has multiple layers of defense,” said Stephen Toulouse, senior product manager at Microsoft’s trustworthy computing group.


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