Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Adopts Malware Techniques to Advance .NET

LAST MONTH we very briefly mentioned what Apple had done to Mozilla/Firefox. It not only pretended that Firefox would die but it also used dirty techniques to push its non-Free software through the update mechanism for iTunes. This got Apple a lot of bad press and it relented.



Microsoft is not only doing the same thing. It's doing something far more cheeky. It's not only pushing unwanted (uncalled for) software into people's desktops but it also injects that into a Free software competitor, namely Firefox, and to an extent also using its update mechanism to install Microsoft software that's an impediment to cross-platform. Slashdot has a decent short overview of this widely-reported new situation.

While doing a weekly scrub of my Windows systems, which includes checking for driver updates and running virus scans, I found Firefox notifying me of a new add-on. It's labelled 'Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant,' and it 'Adds ClickOnce support and the ability to report installed .NET versions to the web server.' The add-on could not be uninstalled in the usual way. A little Net searching turned up a number of sites offering advice on getting rid of the unrequested add-on.


This not only violates trust and fairness; it's also a serious breach that can harm security. Speaking of which, Conficker keeps getting worse and worse, but the press hardly covers it anymore [1, 2].

The Microsoft RPC worm, known by many as Conficker/Downadup, has multiplied across corporate networks infecting an estimated 10 million machines. Though the damage has been minimal, the worst is yet to come, said researchers.


Conficker may have already killed people and now comes a formal report labeling this a "substantive failure."

A worm attack that forced three London hospitals to shut down their computer networks late last year was entirely avoidable and represented a major failing by the organizations' IT staff, according to an independent review of the incident.


Where life and death are at stake 24 hours a day, look what has happened because of Microsoft Windows viruses.

The PCs at St. Bartholomew's, the Royal London Hospital and The London Chest Hospital were infected with Mytob, a mass-mailing worm also known as MyDoom. Emergency patients were temporarily diverted to other facilities, but officials said no personal data was lost.


This is not a joke, right? According to the report, "officials said no personal data was lost." Were lives lost? Where is the liability when people die? How can this damage be measured?

Here is another new report: Data theft 'cost a trillion US dollars'

INSECURITY outfit McAfee has told the World Economic Forum that data theft cost the world a trillion US dollars and if more work was not done to buy its products the figure could get worse.


Well, it figures. When almost 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie, then the notion of "data theft" is like the notion of possession theft in a city where only half the buildings have doors.

"Our products just aren't engineered for security."

--Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive



Open gate
In a world without windows and gates, who
needs to worry about breaches?



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