The MS ‘friendly’ security alert service – just say d'oh

A Register realtime evaluation

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Last month Microsoft introduced a security alert notification service for the masses, intended to be less frightening and confusing to normal people than the Technet advisories, and maybe giving them some advice as well. There have been a couple of security alerts under the bridge since then, so as a service to the readers we at The Register feel it's time to do a compare and contrast.

We take as our texts security bulletins MS03-008 and MS03-009. First, the friendly version for MS03-008:

A security issue has been identified that could allow an attacker to run programs on a computer running Microsoft(R) Windows(R). The attacker would first have to send you an e-mail message or entice you into visiting a malicious Web site. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft.

OK? You understand that entirely? We know we didn't. Now, the Technet version:

Flaw in Windows Script Engine Could Allow Code Execution (814078)
Impact of vulnerability: Run Code of Attacker?s Choice
Maximum Severity Rating: Critical
Recommendation: Customers should install the patch immediately.

OK, maybe a tad more frightening, but it conveys urgency, which we think is maybe appropriate, and it's perfectly clear what it's about. So nul points to the friendly version this time.

Now, MS03-009, friendly:

Security Update for Microsoft ISA Server 2000:
A security issue has been identified that could allow an attacker to cause a specific feature on a computer running Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server to stop responding. The feature affected is DNS Server Publishing and the issue only affects computers acting as servers. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft.

Nope, not sure we entirely got that either. Meanwhile, back at Technet:

Flaw In ISA Server DNS Intrusion Detection Filter Can Cause Denial Of Service (331065)
Impact of vulnerability: Denial of Service
Maximum Severity Rating: Moderate
Recommendation: System administrators should consider installing the patch.

Darn it, that's a lot easier to understand as well. So remind us, Microsoft, what was it you said you intended to do with this consumer-friendly service? ®

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