Internet Explorer 7
+"> Internet Explorer 7+. So much has been written about IE7 that Ill not go into any detail. As I blogged recently, Microsoft decided to rename IE7 on Vista as IE7+ because it has several important features not available to IE7 on other platforms. Protected Mode: In Vista, IE7 runs with specially crippled permissions. Anything remotely dangerous is blocked. If necessary, with explicit permission, users can elevate permissions. This is analogous to some of the user account control advances described above, and I believe subject to some of the same social engineering attacks. But its still an important improvement.Many of the other improvements in IE7, such as the Phishing Filter, are available on earlier Windows versions as well. Click here to read about new Windows Media Player features expected to debut with Windows Vista. Theres more in the document and more thats not in it. Last week on multiple security lists the famous David Litchfield of NGS Software revealed that Windows Vista Beta 2 implements Address Space Layout Randomization. With ASLR Windows randomizes the locations of different Windows program sections: the heaps, stacks and base load addresses. For lots of gory details on ASLR, see Litchfields paper "Buffer Underruns, DEP, ASLR and Improving the Exploitation Prevention Mechanisms (XPMs) on the Windows Platform." The short answer to your "so what?" is that ASLRproperly implementedmakes exploitation of overflows in programs considerably harder to accomplish. Other researchers piped up to say that similar techniques have been used in hardened versions of Linux and there are ways to defeat them, but theres some controversy over how true this really is and how relevant it is to Microsofts implementation. Clearly more research needs to be done, and betas the time to do it. Its easy to get cynical about Windows security, but I look at the last couple years, since XP SP2 especially, and I see a vastly improved situation. Its been more than two years since Sasser, the last of the great network worms. There have been threats and fears of serious outbreaks in that time, but the worst you can say is that the tools exist for conscientious users and administrators to protect their systems. The flaws that weve seen lately typically require some user intervention and are blockable through other means. This is due in large part to all the work Microsoft did on Windows security. Why doubt that the company is capable of greater advances in Vista? Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
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ActiveX Opt-In. Vista users are prompted before they can access a previously installed ActiveX Control that has not yet been used on the Internet. Web sites that attempt automated attacks can no longer secretly attempt to exploit ActiveX Controls that were never intended to be used on the Internet.