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02.22.09

Microsoft’s Latest Web and Security Setbacks: A Summary

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Silver Lie

MICROSOFT’S fight for the Web is an important one, but it is not working out too well because none of its technologies are properly adopted. Microsoft has already bribed people to boost its search engine (without success) and since Silverlight is scarcely adopted, Microsoft has resorted to “shovelware” techniques with the help of companies like H-P. Here is the type of things they do, based on the latest news.

It’s also relying on old tactics, like using Silverlight in Microsoft Web pages or to power Microsoft Web applications. For example, Microsoft uses Silverlight in its MSN Toolbar and in places like a presentation on the economic downturn on MSN Money’s Web site.

Novell too is helping Microsoft in this area, despite dismal demand.

Internet Explorer 8 (Test Build)

How well is it coming along? Here is something to serve as a clue.

All-about-Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley has reported that – out of the box – the current IE 8 release candidate will not work with at least 2,400 web sites. That’s “major” sites as defined by Microsoft and excluding many more considered too small or too niche by the company.

Microsoft continues to reinvent the wheel poorly because it implements its own rendering engine rather than decentralise the work like some other companies do (e.g. WebKit). What would Microsoft shareholders have to say, let alone Web developers whose sites arbitrarily ‘break’ every time Microsoft makes an IE release?

Internet Explorer 6

This Web browser is so obnoxious to users and Webmasters alike that people in the home or Opera work on some kind of a gentle boycott.

Norwegian web sites are campaigning to have users dump Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 for a modern browser.

This news is also covered here and here.

Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft’s current Web browser is IE7 and it’s under attacks at the moment.

Internet attack trackers and antivirus companies warn that a flaw in Internet Explorer 7 (but not earlier versions) that Microsoft just patched last week is under attack in the wild. The attacks appear to be targeted and small-scale right now, but will likely grow.

Trend Micro describes a somewhat roundabout attack that starts with an e-mailed .doc file that, when opened, exploits the MS09-002 vulnerability to download and install remote-control backdoor malware.

This was also covered in The Register.

More (In)Security

There is a lot more going in this critical area of security. Blame-shifting has not exactly worked charmingly for Microsoft because Conficker is causing great damage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and now come the mutant-variants which can probably dodge detection.

The criminals behind the widespread Conficker worm have released a new version of the malware that could signal a major shift in the way the worm operates.

The new variant, dubbed Conficker B++, was spotted three days ago by SRI International researchers, who published details of the new code on Thursday. To the untrained eye, the new variant looks almost identical to the previous version of the worm, Conficker B. But the B++ variant uses new techniques to download software, giving its creators more flexibility in what they can do with infected machines.

Other online services of Microsoft are being exploited by crackers. Xbox Live is one example.

Hackers target Xbox Live players

Xbox Live is being targeted by malicious hackers selling services that kick players off the network.

This is not the first problem of this kind. Previously, there was a massive blunder where people’s Xbox Live accounts were being hijacked and Microsoft couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.

Adding to the existing troubles Microsoft causes to E-mail, there is this:

Spammers have cracked Microsoft Corp. ‘s latest defense against abuse of its Live Hotmail e-mail service using a sophisticated network of hacked computers that receive encrypted instructions from a central server, a security company has reported.

Lastly, regarding reliability concerns, the Microsoft-dominated NHS, just like the Microsoft-dominated LSE, has crashed pretty badly.

The database that stores vital medical information on millions of NHS patients crashed last week.

Haven’t any lessons been learned by UK healthcare [1, 2]? Microsoft does not belong in critical operations where life is at stake.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

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A Single Comment

  1. NotZed said,

    February 22, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Gravatar

    “Microsoft continues to reinvent the wheel poorly because it implements its own rendering engine rather than decentralise the work like some other companies do (e.g. WebKit).”

    I disagree. It’s just a rendering engine. Sure it might be a prick to get it perfect/etc, but if they have enough resources it can be solved – mozilla have their own, opera has its own. It’s not impossible.

    It probably has more to do with a poor codebase (just a guess – lots of bugs and rushed to market) and trying to keep compatability with their existing buggy crap. They probably haven’t thrown that many engineers at it anyway – HTML5 competes quite favourably with silverlight for many uses. It’s probably more of a marketing `effort’ to convince people they’re actually committed to the net.

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