Microsoft: Be afraid, be very afraid

Security threats are worse than ever, and Microsoft seems to have no clue how to handle them.

Here's a scary thought: Microsoft can take over your computer wherever you are, and do whatever it wants to. On this Halloween day I cant think of few things more frightening (except maybe a blind date with Larry Ellison).

Like Dracula or Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street, Microsoft is a reliable boogieman who still has teeth (or a razor sharp fingernails). Last week the Redmond Re-animators still proved they still had the fright stuff, thanks to yet another snafu involving Windows Update.

In this episode, enterprises reported that Update automatically installed Windows Desktop Search 3.01 on systems that had been configured not to run the resource-hogging app. Microsoft's response? "Oops, sorry." But this time they did actually apologize, which for Microsoft is like asking Nosferatu to drink V8 instead of O negative.

Meanwhile, Windows wonk Scott Dunn has come up with an explanation for the forced update that caused many users' systems to suffer an involuntary reboot earlier this month. The culprit? Not "absent minded users," as Microsoft contends, but Windows Live OneCare, which automatically changes your Update options to be, well, automatic.

Microsoft's response to that one? Users received (an extremely vague) notice about this when they installed OneCare, so tough. In the Live OneCare blog, an anonymous drone blithely notes that while you can't stop OneCare from installing critical updates, you can turn off the optional ones. Given that Microsoft can label anything it wants as "critical" -- witness Windows Genuine Advantage -- this is cold comfort at best.

All of this would be moot if Microsoft were doing such a killer job of protecting our computers that we would gladly give up control over them and live happier, safer, more productive lives. But we all know that's a fantasy. In fact, the threats are worse than ever, and Microsoft seems to have no clue about how to handle them.

For example: The vulnerability that allows a malicious PDF file to turn your PC into a zombie. After three months of sloughing off the problem to third parties Microsoft is now scrambling to fix it. But the patch may not be released for another two weeks or more.

(All you smug Mac heads can stop smiling. German security researchers have discovered some gaping holes in Leopard's firewall.)

The ugly truth is that Microsoft is using security fears to force its enslaved base (that would be you and I) into installing stuff it wants us to have. Somebody needs to put a stake through its heart, before it kills again.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?