Feeds

MS security patch EULA gives Billg admin privileges on your box

It's finally happened

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
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.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.