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01.20.10

“Emergency!” Says Microsoft as It’s Losing Market Share; All Versions of Windows Are Vulnerable

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft responds very urgently to the gains Firefox and other Web browsers are making as more vulnerabilities start to surface; Microsoft also throws FUD at Firefox, just as it does against GNU/Linux

INTERNET EXPLORER is under attack [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Microsoft calls it an “emergency”, but the emergency is that Microsoft is losing market share, not that customers are at risk. Microsoft had publicly belittled this issue… until governments started to speak out and complain.

This is the real emergency:

German government IE warning leads to spike in Firefox downloads

Following a warning last Friday from the German Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik, BSI) concerning the security hole in Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla has said that it has recorded a “huge increase” in the number of Firefox downloads in Germany. According to a post by Mozilla’s Ken Kovash on the Mozilla Blog of Metrics, more than 300,000 downloads of the open source browser took place during the recent Friday to Monday period. Similarly, Opera also reportedly saw downloads of its browser in Germany more than double.

“MS to issue emergency patch for potent IE vuln,” heralds The Register:

Microsoft will release an emergency update that patches the Internet Explorer vulnerability used to breach the security defenses of Google and other large companies.

Even the BBC wrote about it, having previously served as Microsoft’s mouthpiece amid these embarrassing incidents.

SJVN has just published “Who cares if IE is patched soon?”

Microsoft is now promising us that they’ll have a patch for the latest IE security hole … real soon now. So what? This problem, while it’s been exploited the most in IE 6, it exists in all modern versions of IE and it can be exploited in every version of Windows from Windows 2000 to Windows 7. And, I’m supposed to trust that Microsoft will ‘patch’ it right this time and that it won’t blow up on me again? I don’t think so.

SJVN is right. Governments complained due to a pattern of shoddy maintenance/stewardship from Microsoft, not because of this one incident. Enough it enough and taxpayers are paying the price while Microsoft and its ecosystem are profiteering from malware.

Microsoft is publicly defending the already-poor reputation of Internet Explorer. It does so right now “by spreading FUD against Firefox,” says Glyn Moody. He cites the following article:

With world governments advising citizens to switch from Internet Explorer to alternative browsers, and an unpatched security hole in at least two major versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has to do something to restore faith in its browser. Easiest way to do it, apparently, is by saying that other browsers are even worse than IE.

The FUD against Firefox is made out of fabrications and secrets. It’s not even worth quoting.

Very recently we also caught Microsoft attacking Linux [1, 2] in order to defend Windows Mobile. So, Microsoft is finally just attacking rival operating systems and Web browsers when its own products come under scrutiny. Microsoft is miserable enough to descend to the final stage per Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “First They Ignore You, Then They Ridicule You, Then They Fight You.”

Linux is not taking Microsoft’s insults without rebutting. Jim Zemlin, the head of the Linux Foundation, has just shot back at Microsoft for its remarks. Here’s the background he provides:

Last week, David Coursey reported that Microsoft entertainment and devices boss Robbie Bach made the prediction in an analyst briefing that Linux on mobile will lose. Why? It’s choice is a bad thing for customers and that there is too much Linux in the mobile marketplace

But wait. There’s more. Since we’re discussing operating systems, check out this new article from The Register:

Windows plagued by 17-year-old privilege escalation bug

A security researcher at Google is recommending computer users make several configuration changes to protect themselves against a previously unknown vulnerability that allows untrusted users to take complete control of systems running most versions of Microsoft Windows.

Well, is anyone surprised at all? Not the Slashdot crowd, that’s for sure. Microsoft never pretended to be a master of security until it became a huge threat to its survival. Microsoft must pretend now. Why? Because there’s potent competition.

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

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

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2 Comments

  1. subsonica said,

    January 20, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Gravatar

    If it were just Internet Explorer…

    http://lists.grok.org.uk/pipermail/full-disclosure/2010-January/072549.html

    there is something fundamentally wrong with Windows security design.
    Windows was never meant nor actually prepared to be multiuser or networked. Back in the days, Microsoft simply took MS-DOS + LAN MANAGER and glued to it a ripoff of the Digital VMS model of user security, copied the HPFS filesystem from OS2 (shafting IBM in the process) and called it NTFS, then added the Netware and BSD TCP/IP stack into the mix, called it “Windows NT” and they have just kept patching that model up to the current offerings, adding an E+E+E’ed version of LDAP called “Active Directory” on top of it from Windows 2000 on.
    Every day that passes, keeping relying on this windows model for your data, services and applications is becoming more and more an irresponsability.

  2. Dennis Murczak said,

    January 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Gravatar

    That pretty much sums up Windows history. They also copied KDE and sudo and marketed both as groundbreaking new stuff.

    They should have stopped slapping new features onto a rotten legacy architecture years ago; now they are paying the bill. Not to mention that the only market in which they don’t have to compete is shrinking.

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