I always wonder if computer security companies around this time of year take a moment to give thanks to all the malicious hackers and Internet crime syndicates, and to Windows or any other security-challenged piece of software, without which they would not have a reason to be in business. Of course, they also shouldnt forget a special thanks to the millions of users out there who leave their computers vulnerable to attack despite the many security resources available to them.
At eWEEK and eWEEK Labs, we have always tried to hold all parties—developers, criminals and users—responsible for the security pandemic, which is showing no signs of slowing. If you think things are getting better, read Senior Writer Paul F. Roberts story on how 2005 will be a banner year for stealth programs such as keyloggers. More than 6,000 keylog programs will be released by the end of this year, which is a 2,000 percent increase over five years ago, according to research company iDefense. Further, this month the security situation was exacerbated by music company Sony BMG, which, through its efforts to protect its music from pirates, actually opened up customers PCs to hackers.
While no security panacea exists, there are some practices that will help make it more difficult for malware or criminals to penetrate computers in your enterprise. In eWEEK Labs this week, analysts Andrew Garcia and Jason Brooks examine system lockdown strategies that, though they may limit users from downloading a fun tool or app, will help machines from being infected or occupied by a virus. Brooks reviews GPAnywhere, a group policy manager that locks down Windows machines based on roles and policies.
In addition, locking down systems is not easy when the applications users need for their jobs must be run under administrative privileges, thereby opening them to threats. Thats a problem, and Microsoft, with its forthcoming Windows Vista, will try to solve it, but the company also needs developers to build the apps that will follow that same strategy.
The jury is still out on Microsofts plan to make its Office file formats “open” and have the Office Open XML Format stamped as a standard by Ecma International. According to Senior Editor Peter Gallis story, the move was a reaction to this years decision by the commonwealth of Massachusetts to standardize on a separate XML-based open standard, OpenDoc, for all its correspondence, effectively closing out Microsoft Office from all desktops in the Statehouse and related agencies.
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