Win XP SP2 enhancements cause conflicts, don’t protect as claimed

“Security experts and vendors this week welcomed the introduction of Windows Firewall, part of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), as a valuable way of protecting PCs. But while the firewall is an improvement, it falls short of the standard of protection expected of commercial firewalls, according to some industry observers,” Matthew Broersma writes for Techworld.com.

“Windows Firewall–which replaces the old Internet Connection Firewall–marks the first time all up-to-date PCs will have a firewall switched on by default, an important step in stopping the spread of viruses, according to industry analysts. However, the software suffers from two major flaws, critics say: it does not block outbound traffic, and it can be switched off by another application, possibly even by a clever worm,” Broersma writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: An insecure veriosn of Microsoft Windows? Say it isn’t so! For our Windows-only friends, information about smoothly adding a Mac OS X machine to your computing arsenal can be found here.

30 Comments

  1. Wow, so now Windows users get a false sense of security. This could be worse than before. But, it’s free. And, after all, cost is the only thing that matters in the Windoze world.

  2. “it can be switched off by another application, possibly even by a clever worm”

    Something which can be done on any operating system, even MacOS X, if you have the necessary privileges.

    If a stupid Windows user downloads a trojan and runs it with administrator rights, it’s Microsoft’s fault.

    If a stupid MacOS X user downloads a trojan and runs it with administrator rights, it’s the user’s fault.

    The hypocrisy is staggering.

  3. If a stupid Windows user downloads a trojan, it has hundreds of ways to run itself with administrator rights.

    If a stupid Mac OS X user downloads a trojan, he has to run it explicitly with administrator rights.

    Hypocrisy, you say?

  4. “…two major flaws, critics say: it does not block outbound traffic…”

    “…MacOS X firewall by default does not block outbound traffic either…”

    It sounds like the Windows version can’t block outgoing traffic while the Mac can if you want.

    Certainly blocking the outbound traffic is of interest once the machine has become diseased but this is a Windows phenom. More reason to have ‘outbound blocking’ on Windows and not a strong reason for Mac to make this a default setting.

  5. I can think of a few dozen styles of worms for OSX but the matter of the fact is that once we kill it, it’s gone. On Windows XP if it’s lodged in the registry, startup items, init files, boot records, and Explorer (which is the cause of most of the bloody viruses) then you’re screwed. I’ve booted other people’s computers into safe mode and it was still busted. There are scripts that will write over windows system files and add a little code of their own. The brutality that a little batch file or script (even from a website) can cause is absolutely mind boggling.

    I hope NOBODY out there belives that one kid from Germany truly was responsible for 70% of the viruses for 2004 (as reported by CNET). Makes people trust M$ by blaming it on one guy. Windows will never be safe, but I fear it won’t be long before OSX is next. Just be smart and you’re fine. That won’t ever happen for Windows users…unfortunately.

  6. “It sounds like the Windows version can’t block outgoing traffic while the Mac can if you want.”

    Yes, the MacOS X firewall can if you configure it to do so using Terminal.app. It’s not available in System Preferences.

    Using Terminal.app and manually configuring a firewall is out of the question for most MacOS X users.

    There are some 3rd party GUI config tools for the MacOS X firewall, but I don’t know whether they support configuring blocking of outgoing traffic.

  7. “If a stupid Windows user downloads a trojan, it has hundreds of ways to run itself with administrator rights.”

    Not if the user is logged in as a non-admin user on a patched Windows system (keeping your Windows patched is as easy as on MacOS X, you enable auto update).

    So, yes, I do say hypocrisy.

  8. Wait, a commercial firewall developer thinks Microsoft’s free firewall isn’t up to the challenge? Wow, what a surprise! What if Microsoft had put a full-fledged firewall into SP2? The same companies would be whining about how Microsoft bullied them out of the market.

  9. So let me get this right. As long as you surf only as a non admin user you are safe on Windows. How do you download and launch software upgrades? Store them in a universal folder and switch to the admin user before launching? What a piece of shit.

    Don’t ever connect to the internet and you will be safe then.

  10. “Not if the user is logged in as a non-admin user on a patched Windows system (keeping your Windows patched is as easy as on MacOS X, you enable auto update).”

    Once again, incorrect information from a Windows idiot!

    ActiveX controls can and do install on PC’s even when the user is a non-admin which leads to a host of spyware, malware and visruses. Admin rights mean nothing…. nothing on a Windows PC.

    Microsoft is like Zorg Industries where Mac OS X IS the 5th Element

    Of course Mac users don’t have cool software like SpyBot Search and Destroy which at last count scans for more than 16,000 potential problem items. Nice…

  11. “ActiveX controls can and do install on PC’s even when the user is a non-admin which leads to a host of spyware, malware and visruses. Admin rights mean nothing…. nothing on a Windows PC.”

    You are either clueless or a liar.

  12. “So let me get this right. As long as you surf only as a non admin user you are safe on Windows. How do you download and launch software upgrades? Store them in a universal folder and switch to the admin user before launching? What a piece of shit.”

    What a clueless and ignorant Mac zealot.

    You right click on the application and select “Run As”. It will give you a dialog box similar to the one on MacOS X where you can enter your admin password.

    If Windows detects that it’s a setup application it will automatically display the dialog if you just double click the application.

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