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Blame Microsoft? 25 January 2001 Edition
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Yesterday morning it was Microsoft.co.nz which fell to hackers, last night it was Epson.co.nz that was left looking like this.

At around the same time the Epson site was being compromised, Many of Microsoft's own sites totally disappeared from the face of the Web due to problems with its nameservers.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)

From Yesterday

Word document attachments... - Ian

Govt hacking... - Bede

Alternatives to Word documents... - John

"R" and not "D"... - Richard

Word Document Attachments... - Matthew

Word macros... - Andrew

Word attachments... - Ian

MS Word format... - Michael

Word, Smurd, get over it... - Rob

Have Your Say

A few years ago this kind of vulnerability and unreliability would have been considered a bit of a laugh. Commentators like myself would have poked a bit of fun at those (ir)responsible and we'd have all got on with our jobs.

But things have changed!

Not only are there a growing number of "Internet companies" that are totally reliant on the Net for their day-to-day operation but the Net has already become an essential service for a growing percentage of other businesses.

Email has already replaced fax as the preferred non-verbal communications medium for most people and a growing number of businesses now use the Net for critical roles such as B2B transactions.

When a server is compromised or a network fails it's no longer just an inconvenience, it's a very significant cost.

It would be easy to bash Microsoft over this latest round of Net problems -- after all, it is flaws in their software which has allowed so many websites (including their own) to be compromised and it was their own DNS servers that scuttled access to a raft of MS sites last night. Would it be fair to do this however? (You tell me!).

Microsoft would be justified in saying that all software has bugs and that in this regard they are little different to any other vendor. Perhaps the fact that they sell so much software makes it only natural that their products will be hacked or fail more often -- it's just the law of averages.

Perhaps it's a company's own fault when they fail to apply all the available security patches as they become available? Or maybe Microsoft ought to be a little more pro-active in ensuring that it contacts users of its software and supplies those patches?

I would think, given the new licensing system that makes it mandatory to register your software (or it stops working), Microsoft has little excuse not to take a more agressive stance in ensuring that sites running their software are "up to scratch."

Here's one for you Microsoft -- why not invite all those running your IIS software to register for a free security-scan. You can then set side a rack of machines to regularly interrogate those sites (given that you'll have the owner's permission) and make sure they're carrying the latest patches. If a site is found without the required patches then the registered owner (or their agent) can be notified immediately -- (maybe even by having the closest Microsoft branch give them a ring) and explain the importance of patching the code.

Will this make Microsoft money? No -- not directly. Its a funny old thing called "customer service" and "commitment to excellence."

Microsoft -- your reputation is in your own hands.

Perhaps this "problem" is an opportunity for some keen entrepreneur to set up the same kind of service. For an extra fee they could even call to the client's premises and apply those patches.

The Weekly Trickles Out
This week's edition of the Weekly has started trickling out. It will probably take a day or so before they're all sent but they're on their way.

As always, your feedback is welcomed and...

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Security Alerts
Windows Media Player 7 opens system for hackers (IDG - 18/01/2001t)

Net worm hobbles Linux servers ZDNet - 18/01/2001)

Interbase Server Contains Compiled-in Back Door Account (CERT - 10/01/2001)

AIM Flaw Could Open Users' Computers to Attack (InternetNews)

Denial-of-Service Vulnerabilities in TCP/IP Stacks: (CERT)

Sun advises of a potential compromise of 2 specific security certificates (CERT)

Virus Alerts
Melissa-X disguised as Mac doc (ZDNet - 22/01/2001)

Kriz virus makes return appearance (ZDNet)

Tool to beat killer Xmas virus promised (IDG)

Virus: Snow White not so innocent ZDNet

Wild Worm With Pro-Linux Message (Wired)

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4 = open in new window
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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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