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Insecure by design

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Microsoft's trustworthy computing initiative is five years-old but the software giant is still making bone-headed design decisions that favour usability over basic security.

A good example comes from the folks at F-Secure who noticed that Vista continues to hide extensions for known file types by default, just like older versions of Windows. This is a bad idea because it allows virus writers to create malware with double extensions - such as LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.VBS - to run malicious code, Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, notes.

"This sucks," he addds.

Microsoft's decision to retain this feature on default installs is galling because the company's mantra is that should not be blamed unless malware exploits specific vulnerabilities in its software.

But if Microsoft fails to take basic precautions to block well-known social engineering exploits used for years by malware authors, then all the hard work that's gone into making Windows more secure in other respects is squandered. ®

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