Feeds

MS security patch EULA gives Billg admin privileges on your box

It's finally happened

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

If you caught our recent coverage of the Windows Media Player trio of security holes you may have followed a link to the TechNet download site for a patch, or you might have activated Windows Update. If you did the former (though, oddly, not if you did the latter), you would have been confronted with an End User License Agreement (EULA) stating, most ominously, that:

"You agree that in order to protect the integrity of content and software protected by digital rights management ('Secure Content'), Microsoft may provide security related updates to the OS Components that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer. These security related updates may disable your ability to copy and/or play Secure Content and use other software on your computer. If we provide such a security update, we will use reasonable efforts to post notices on a web site explaining the update."

"Reasonable efforts to post notices" somewhere on the Web. I think it's clear from the wording that MS has absolutely no intention of bringing this behavior to our attention.

Instead, Microsoft has just assumed the right to attack your computer and surreptitiously install code of its choosing. You will not be warned; you will not be offered an opportunity examine the download or refuse it. MS will simply connect remotely and install what it will, or install it secretly when you contact them.

This means MS will have administrator privileges on your personal computer. What they feed you may be infected with viruses; it may break your applications, corrupt data files, destroy weeks or months or even years of work, but you'll have no recourse if it does. By downloading this WMP critical security patch, which you must do to operate WMP safely, you'll agree to give Billg deed and title to your personal property and to leave Microsoft immune from legal retaliation if they damage your machine.

The pusillanimity of wrapping what amounts to a digital land-grant into a needed, critical security patch is matched only by the arrogance of assuming that Windows is now such a fundamental linchpin of a human life worth living that no retaliation in the courts or at the retail counters is conceivable. (And that's not to mention 'informal' retaliation by outraged IP warriors, which we fully expect to see.)

We've heard the Billg rubbish about Trustworthy Computing until we're sick to death of the trivial incantation. Ironically, Microsoft has just taken steps to make the Internet immensely more untrustworthy than it already is. When we know that arbitrary code will be secretely installed on our connected boxes by software vendors who are not accountable for the damage they may do, any issue of trust is obliterated.

May I suggest my (personally) favorite solution to that problem? ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.