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New MS-Conxion leak allows WinXP RC1 free download

Security? How exactly do you spell that?

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Less than two weeks ago details of how you could download the Windows XP RC1 preview program code without paying Microsoft any money leaked onto the web, and large numbers of people must have grabbed it in the couple of days that passed before Microsoft and its partner Conxion plugged the hole. But they didn't do it very well because - good grief - it's back again.

The preview program download should work as follows. You sign up, you pay Microsoft the money, then you get validation, authentication and download details mailed you by Conxion, the outfit that actually hosts the download. The direct link that leaked earlier this month however meant you could skip all of that, and just go straight to the file and get it using a download manager. What you didn't get this way, of course, was a valid product key, but there's quite a merry cottage industry in invalid but working ones out on Usenet and IRC.

Obviously this isn't something that makes a whole lot of sense to Microsoft, considering it wants handling fees and registration details, so it wasn't much of a surprise when the link stopped working. The latest link, however, makes it clear why the link stopped working - and frankly, friends, it's gobsmacking.

They changed the name of the directory the file is in from 'download' to 'Download', and they changed the name of the file from wxp_pro_rc1.iso to Wxp_pro_rc1.iso. And...? You ask. No people, that's it - they seem to have relied solely on those tiny little mods to do service as mission-critical security.

Last time we mused that it was obviously going to be difficult to sell software for download on the web if you couldn't stop people just going directly to it and helping themselves. This time, although it's possible that neither Microsoft nor Conxion views security of RC1 because it obviously has a limited shelf life), one does begin to wonder if maybe these links don't get properly plugged because they can't be properly plugged.

First we had the direct link to the Win2k SP2 file, then we had RC1 leak number one, now we've got RC1 leak number two. It really is starting to look suspicious... ®

Related stories:
WinXP RC1download leak is Preview Program code
WinXP RC1 leaks on web as fast MS download

Reducing security risks from open source software

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