We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,258 News Articles

Microsoft admits Vista is vulnerable

OS is open to social-engineering scams

Windows Vista is wide open to nearly 40 percent of the malware currently circulating, Microsoft has admitted, following a report by Sophos.

Remarkably, with the new operating system just released to businesses, the software giant said in effect that there is nothing it can do about the threats in question - Stratio-Zip, Netsky-D and MyDoom-O - because they rely on social engineering to invade systems. The three threats together account for 39.7 percent of currently circulating malware, according to Sophos.

"Based on our initial investigation, Microsoft can confirm that these variants do not take advantage of a security vulnerability, rather they rely on social engineering to infect a user's system," Microsoft said in a statement.

While the email system built into Vista, Windows Mail Client, stops all of the top 10 viruses identified by Sophos for November, the three threats outlined can infect systems when a third-party email client is used, Sophos said last week. Stratio-Zip was November's top malware, accounting for one-third of virus traffic.

Sophos said that while no Vista-specific viruses have yet been detected, they are likely to appear soon. "It won't be long before cyber criminals develop Vista-specific malware or modify current threats to fit the bill," said Ron O'Brien, Sophos senior security analyst. "The Stratio-Zip worm, for example, remains on the top ten list due to constant, minor alterations to its code that force security systems to re-identify the malware."

Few actual installations of Vista currently exist, since the OS was only launched last week. Sophos and McAfee have antivirus products ready for Vista, but Symantec, Trend Micro and CA are still working on theirs.

Microsoft congratulated itself on the "aggressive security design decisions" it took with Windows Mail Client, but said if users choose to use other, more vulnerable email programs they can configure User Account Control (UAC) to help limit the damage users can cause if they're infected.


IDG UK Sites

Nokia branding killed in place of 'Microsoft Lumia': Windows Phone moves into new era

IDG UK Sites

Why you shouldn't buy the iPad mini 3: No wonder Apple gave it 10 seconds of stage time

IDG UK Sites

Halloween Photoshop tutorials: 13 masterclasses for horrifying art, designs and type

IDG UK Sites

Should you update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8? iOS 8.1 brings back Camera Roll, adds Apple Pay in...