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Windows Update: A single point of failure for the world's economy?
From: "Richard M. Smith" <rms () computerbytesman com>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 12:47:48 -0400

Hi,

The Washington Post has an article in today's paper saying that
Microsoft is mulling over making the Auto-Update feature of Windows XP
be turned on by default.  The article can be found here:

   Microsoft Weighs Automatic Security Updates as a Default 
   http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A11579-2003Aug18

This move by Microsoft sounds pretty scary to me.  I am willing to bet
that if Microsoft proceeds with these plans, the Windows Update Web site
could easily distribute and install new software on hundreds of millions
of Windows computers in a day or two.  

The risk here is that the system could be exploited by a disgruntled
Microsoft employee and become the ultimate malware distribution system.
It seems to me that the Microsoft is in the process of creating a single
point of failure for the world's economy.

I am wondering what sort of security and accounting systems that
Microsoft has in place to prevent an insider attack on the Windows
Update Web site?

As one data point, yesterday I updated my wife's Windows Me laptop at
the Windows Update site to repair the DCOM security hole.  One of the 20
patch files I downloaded was something for DirectX.  This patch file
caused the laptop to blue screen of death in some VxD near the end of
the Windows boot process.  Luckily for me, the system seem to repair
itself after the 4th reboot.  I really didn't relish the idea of
explaining to my wife how I broke her laptop.

Richard M. Smith
http://www.ComputerBytesMan.com




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