Feeds

Share the Vista vision, Microsoft tells security rivals

Build it like you mean it

The essential guide to IT transformation

Microsoft has called on security software firms to provide more than just "basic" products for Windows Vista.

Partners must deliver more than "baseline" protection and support for Windows Vista's new security architecture to address future threats to computers, it says.

Its cry comes in response to a barrage of complaints from security software vendors, such as Symantec and McAfee, which slam Microsoft for taking "unnecessary security risks" and for potentially damaging the industry by releasing Windows Vista.

In an open letter published in the Financial Times, McAfee chief executive George Samenuk said Microsoft has "shut off" independent access to the Windows Vista kernel.

His comments follow claims from Symantec that Microsoft had withheld information about APIs for the Windows Defender anti-spyware product. Last week, Symantec representatives, with one eye to European Commission anti-trust officials, briefed the press in Brussels over its concerns. This was good timing on Symantec's part as it coincided with the commission's decision to widen its investigation into Vista's encryption and handwriting technology.

In August, Symantec highlighted problems with PatchGuard, software from Microsoft designed to thwart hackers by preventing the execution of unassigned kernel-level code, and so helping to stop denial of service attacks.

By blocking kernel extensions PatchGuard also denies security firms anything other than temporary access to the kernel. "These new technologies, along with Microsoft's unwillingness to make compromises in this area have serious implications for the security industry as a whole," Oliver Friedrichs, director of emerging technologies in the Symantec security response team, blogged.

Microsoft first floated the idea of a hardened kernel when Windows Vista was still a glint in Bill Gates's jeans. Unpopular then, security vendors were being forced to work through Palladium, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology subsequently renamed Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB).

Picking up the Windows Vista baton, Samenuk wrote in his FT letter: "Microsoft is embracing the flawed logic that computers will be more secure if it stops cooperating with the independent security firms. For the first time, Microsoft shut off security providers' access to the core of its operating system.

"At the same time, Microsoft has firmly embedded its own Windows Security Center - a product that cannot be disabled even when the user purchases an alternative security solution. This approach results in confusion for customers and prevents genuine freedom of choice."

Microsoft says it has supplied adequate documentation and support to partners, which should continue to work with PatchGuard. "The security threat landscape has evolved and Microsoft has to continue to evolve Windows to provide a safer, more secure computing experience," the company said.

"The solutions these partners provided yesterday need to evolve to address the threats of today, tomorrow, and go beyond the baseline protection that Microsoft needs to provide to its customers through technologies like Kernel Patch Protection [PatchGuard]." ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?