Feeds

Microsoft finally says adios to Autorun

Worm bait purged from older Windows

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

After a decade of abuse, Autorun is finally being retired in older versions of Windows.

On Tuesday, Microsoft began pushing an update that changes the way Windows Server 2008 and earlier versions of the OS respond when USB thumb drives and other portable media are plugged in. Until now, those versions dutifully executed code embedded in autorun.inf files without first prompting the user. The default behavior provided a convenient way to propagate malware such as Conficker, which hijacked the feature to spread itself each time an infected drive was inserted.

Microsoft finally nixed Autorun in Windows 7, but until now, users of earlier versions had to muck about in the Windows registry or install a special fix it to turn it off. Adding the change to the official Windows Update mechanism means millions of users will turn it off automatically.

“We feel like now is the right time across the industry to be able to push this change out and have a pretty substantial impact on how malware spreads,” Jerry Bryant, group manager in Microsoft's Response Communications, told The Reg. “This is really something that will help to further protect the ecosystem.”

Bryant said the main reason Microsoft didn't retire Autorun sooner was the resistance from some partners who rely on the feature to install programs that accompany their hardware. Over the past few years technologies such as in the U3 functionality found on many thumb drives has provided alternatives.

The "Important, non-security update" was pumped into the pipeline on the same day Microsoft issued 12 security bulletins fixing 22 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and IIS. Three of the bulletins are rated critical. Sans has a helpful breakdown here.

As we've pointed out before, the changes to Autorun still don't go far enough. CDs and DVDs by default still automatically execute code when inserted. Adam Shostack, a program manager for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing group, said here that Microsoft has yet to see in-the-wild attacks that exploit Autorun on “shiny media.”

Weighing the minimal amount of convenience from Autorun against its potential for bad things to happen, we still think it's a bad idea, even for CDs and DVDs. Those who agree can turn it off entirely by following the instructions here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.