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Microsoft Unleashes Proxies at Journalists to Defend Vulnerable Vista

Policemen
Microsoft is policing the press again



R

EVISIONISM STRIKES again [1, 2, 3]. Last week and the week before that we wrote about a very serious new flaw in Windows Vista, which is not secure and prone to making more zombie PCs. Reporters who wrote about the issue seem to have received a little 'cybervisit' from a well-known (and very ville) Microsoft proxy, the Waggener Edstrom group. It is a fact of life that few reporters will talk about their experiences with these media bullies, but Egan at The Inquirer, being an avid reader of Groklaw, has just spilled the beans on them. They tried to change his report about the kernel flaw in Windows Vista ("Would you be able to update your story to reflect this?"). Here is the story which reveals the full correspondence with Rickard Andersson, a front line man for the news-shaping monopolist.

IT IS NOT OFTEN that anyone at Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's pet public relations firm, writes to The INQUIRER. Read on, and we think you'll soon understand why that's the case.


They tried to airbrush history.

The Inquirer does not report anything unusual here. The Inquirer just happens to be more frank about behind-the-scenes machinations that the public rarely hears about. This is not the first time that the Inquirer writes about this type of stuff. We covered examples of this two nights ago.

Never forget how Waggener Edstrom "plants" articles inside the media. The firm even brags to its paymaster, Microsoft, about "planting" anti-Linux stories [1, 2].

For more information about Waggener Edstrom, see [1, 2, 3, 4]. More recently, Waggener Edstrom was in the midst of the laptop bribes fiasco. These are Microsoft agents in suits and some such agencies hire people to AstroTurf [1, 2], as well.

Virtually Every Windows PC is Zombie Candidate



To address the topic Waggener Edstrom intervened with (message as opposed to messenger), let's look at this week's headlines about security, shall we?

Yesterday it was revealed that Windows is still hugely vulnerable due to already-known "critical" flaws. That's the highest severity level in Microsoft's terminology/ladder. There are no less than six "critical" flaws this time around.

System administrators look like having a busy time in the run-up to Christmas as they digest and test the eight security bulletins that Microsoft expects to release next Tuesday. Six of the bulletins are rated critical.


More information can be found here.

Earlier this week we wrote about Windows putting national security and people's lives at risk. Carla has published a brilliant, improved article not just about the insecurity of Windows; she addresses the fact that Microsoft does not allow the media to blame Windows, so the likes of Waggener Edstrom come to mind again (details above).

So my guess it's very widespread and they don't want to admit just how bad it is. But there is one fact that becomes apparent to the tech-educated reader with the wit to look up little clues dropped in those stories like breadcrumbs-- such as SillyFDC and agent.btx-- it's all Windows computers that are affected. And yet in all of those news stories I read, not one single story said this. The closest any of them came to naming names was this ZDNet article:



"Our military is dependent upon commodity desktops whose software shares an enormous amount of DNA with systems that sit on every workplace in the planet"



A masterpiece of weasel-wording. Is Microsoft's grip on the news media that tight? Why isn't this a huge scandal? Weird-looking old ladies with thick shoes trying to catch their planes are not threats to this country's security, though they are treated as such, but Windows is a proven threat, and yet Microsoft gets a free pass.



Is Windows no more fragile and vulnerable than other platforms? Using the lies of Jeff Jones, Microsoft hopes that the world will believe this, but as Microsoft fan Joe Wilcox has just pointed out, it's all just a myth.

Will bloggers and journalists please stop writing that Apple has suddenly advised its users to use anti-virus software? That's simply not true.

[...]

There haven't been any major new malware attacks to suggest increasing Mac marketshare has generated more malware. Just two weeks ago, I blogged that in fact Apple's increasing marketshare hadn't led to more attacks—that Microsoft's marketshare mythology is wrong.


On the other side of this, Secunia has just published what would be jaw-dropping to those who did not already know it:

1. Virtually Every Windows PC at Risk, Says Secunia

More than 98% of Windows computers harbor at least one unpatched application, and nearly half contain 11 or more programs at risk from attack, a Danish security company said Wednesday.


2. Windows patching abysmal, and getting worse

Fewer than one in 50 Windows PCs are fully patched, according to stats from users of Secunia's new patching tool, which suggest surfers are becoming even more slipshod with applying patches over the last year.


3. Secunia publishes shocking vulnerability statistics

Since the release of Personal Software Inspector 1.0 last week, over those seven days security specialists Secunia have gathered statistics showing that out of 20,000 PCs polled only 1.91 per cent of machines in personal use are fully patched with the latest security updates. According to statistics Secunia have gathered in the past, if anything, the numbers for insecure PCs are worse now, than they were a year ago.


Added are the following thoughts which have just been sent in by a regular reader of this Web site:

"One can have a lot of fun with this: It's more than a little ironic that the one man responsible for the most damage to the US economy is whining about economic stimulus. Windows viruses, worms and malware have been costing double-digit billions per year in the US. Spam, which originates almost exclusively from Windows, is not included in the figures any more.

"Remove Microsoft and you give a many billion dollar boost to the economy, even after the cost of upgrading to OSX, Linux, BSD or Solaris is taken into account."

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

--Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive



"Usually Microsoft doesn't develop products, we buy products. It's not a bad product, but bits and pieces are missing."

--Arno Edelmann, Microsoft's European business security product manager

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