Feeds

Microsoft purges AutoRun from older Windows

Still (woefully) incomplete

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Microsoft has finally removed a function from earlier versions of its Windows operating system that has been widely abused by miscreants to surreptitiously install malware on users' computers.

The feature, known as AutoRun, allows Windows machines to automatically execute certain programs - such as media players or installers - as soon as CDs, flash drive,s and other types of media are connected. While that saves users the hassle of having to open a folder and doubleclick on a file, it also makes it easy for criminals to spread malicious payloads.

On Friday, Microsoft announced the availability of updates to the XP, Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008 versions of Windows that removes the AutoRun popup window when some types of removable media is connected. The change doesn't affect optical media such as CDs and DVDs, a shortcoming we'll get to in a moment.

The company made similar changes in April when it introduced Release Candidate 1 of Windows 7. Microsoft said at the time the move was designed to thwart the spread of worms such as Conficker, which has proved especially adept at self-replicating by exploiting the weakness.

As we pointed out then, the move is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough. That's because certain types of removable drives - those made by U3, for instance - run firmware that advertises the device to Windows as a CD. Such drives will continue to automatically execute the AutoRun routine as soon as they're plugged in.

The new updates are available here. But as we've said before, given the large number of devices that are unaffected by this change, we'll continue to disable AutoRun altogether. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
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.