[ISN] Microsoft confident XP update will baffle hackers

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Sep 9 06:41:39 EDT 2004


By Richard Tyler 
Filed: 09/09/2004

Microsoft's UK head Alistair Baker has thrown down the gauntlet to
would-be hackers.

He said his company's Windows XP operating system update, launched
last month by Bill Gates, was the "first big line we have drawn in the
sand" to combat security breaches and spam.

He challenged hackers: "If you could get through that I would be

Bookies immediately offered punters odds of 2-1 on that the system
would be hacked by the end of the year.

More generous odds of 6-4 were offered to those willing to bet the new
update, called service pack two (SP2), would stand up to scrutiny.

The update, available free of charge from Microsoft, cost $1billion to
develop - a seventh of the firm's total annual R&D budget - and has
helped delay the release of a new version of Microsoft's
three-year-old XP operating system, called Longhorn.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, warned Windows XP users that they
needed the update to ensure their PCs were "better isolated and more
resilient in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks".

Mr Baker said the update represented a "transistory phase" for
Microsoft users. At present, he admitted, security was a "big risk"  
because the operating system's "potential weaknesses" were being
exploited by hackers. But the arrival of SP2 would mean "we are very
much in control of the issue".

He added that Microsoft expected 2.5m SP2 downloads a day from its
website, with a target of seeing the software installed on 100m
desktop computers by November. He advised firms with PCs using the
Windows 98 operating system that it was not designed with the internet
and e-mail in mind but they could download the upgrades to cut the
risk of attack.

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