10 Reasons Why Security Problems Persist at Microsoft

News Analysis: As much as Microsoft would like security problems to just go away, they won't. The chances of Microsoft eliminating most of the software flaws that invite new attacks are slim to nil. But there are many things that Microsoft should do to improve the situation. We take a look at why security issues continue to haunt the software giant and what Microsoft can do about it.

Microsoft sent out a patch March 9 for security holes in Office Excel and Windows Movie Maker. Recent reports also suggest that a zero-day vulnerability is currently being used to attack Internet Explorer 6 and 7, allowing malicious hackers to run remote code.

The software giant said it's aware of problems affecting computers because of the IE flaw. But it's just another in a long line of vulnerabilities that have yet to be patched in IE, Windows and several other Microsoft products.
Security has been an enormous issue for Microsoft throughout the years. As its software became more popular and as hackers became more sophisticated, Microsoft customers were being targeted at an astounding rate.

It has gotten so bad that some folks have opted for other operating systems and third-party software to try to reduce their chances of being hit by a hacker attack that could compromise their data and their identities.

In recent years, Microsoft has done a slightly better job of addressing security issues. Unfortunately, its efforts haven't been good enough. Security problems still persist in Microsoft products and the chances of them being eliminated in the near future are slim. Here's why:

1. Microsoft is a major target
If there's any company that malicious hackers can't stand in the tech industry, it's Microsoft. Many view Microsoft as a dominant company that has gone out of its way to keep other companies down. It's not good for Microsoft. Because the company has such a huge target on its back, more and more hackers are looking to pile on. Microsoft needs to temper its image as the mean, aggressive, 1,000-pound alpha gorilla in the software industry. I'm sure Google would gladly help it achieve that goal.
2. Windows is an easy target
Windows is a nightmare when it comes to security. The operating system is filled with holes that, over the years, have been patched with varying degrees of success. Windows 7 is the most secure operating system Microsoft has released to date, but it's probably rife with flaws that Microsoft hasn't heard of yet. And no doubt hackers are ceaselessly searching for them. Unless Microsoft does something drastic with the next iteration of Windows, its operating system woes will likely continue.
3. The competition isn't big enough
Make no mistake, most security attacks are about money. Malicious hackers steal sensitive information, coax people into downloading malware or fool users into phishing scams because there is money to be made with each exploitation. Currently, the best place to exploit users is on Windows, since it has the most users. Mac OS X might have holes that hackers can exploit, but there are too few users running Apple OSes. If they want to make big money, hackers need to target Windows and its huge user base.
4. The company ignored it for too long
Microsoft ignored security issues for too long. Windows XP was one big security hole when it first launched. Only after two XP service packs were released did Microsoft finally address the concerns of the entire security community. When Windows Vista was released, Microsoft committed the same errors. Windows 7 is much better than its predecessors, but it's already too late. By ignoring security problems in the beginning, Microsoft is playing an unending game of catch-up with hackers.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...