Sasser ups cost of Windows - Gartner

Worm tax

Gartner is advising its customers to budget for extra security spending on Windows desktops in the wake of the raft of problems caused by the Sasser worm this week.

The influential analyst group reckons the appearance of another - and perhaps even more devastating - worm is only a matter of time. In the meantime, Users should batten down their security hatches.

In a research note, Gartner writes: "Many of the vulnerabilities that continue to be identified in Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003 are easily exploitable; attackers will continue to develop worms that will cause damage equal to, or more severe than, the system shutdowns and network congestion caused by the Slammer worm. Enterprises that are dependent on Windows systems must invest both in means to patch faster and in host-based intrusion prevention software for all Windows PCs and servers."

Companies should set aside money to patch management systems that can make patching before attacks a more manageable proposition. "Simply turning on Windows automatic update feature is not enough," Gartner notes. Better patch management by itself isn't enough and enterprises should also budget for personal firewall, antivirus and behaviour-based intrusion prevention software for all Windows PCs and servers. Gartner analysts John Pescatore and Mark Nicolett reckon that even though the market for host-based intrusion prevention software will not be mature until the end of next year, companies need to budget for these products now.

These additional security measures will drive the total cost of ownership up. Quite how much by Gartner doesn't say but for users evaluating Windows against Linux this is another entry in the debit column against Microsoft, something Redmond can ill afford in face of an increased competitive threat from Linux vendors. ®

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