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Chapter 1. The Problem with the Blue E > The Blue E: The Achilles Heel of Windo...

1.7. The Blue E: The Achilles Heel of Windows Security

Microsoft's decision to amalgamate its web browser and its operating system made it harder for the U.S. government to argue that the company should separate the two pieces of software, but the consolidation was technically unnecessary and has in fact been enormously problematic. If Microsoft wanted to provide a library that other third-party companies and programmers could use to web-enable their software, it could have done so without welding those libraries into every nook and cranny of Windows and its own software. Since everything is amalgamated, though, a vulnerability in the browser means that the operating system itself is threatened, and a problem in the OS can likewise affect the web browser. This has happened time and time again over the past several years, as Microsoft has been forced to issue security alert after security alert for attacks that can be triggered simply by reading email or listening to music using Windows Media Player.

Seeing is believing

If you find this hard to believe, see, for example, the Secunia advisories for "Microsoft Windows Media Player DHTML Local Zone Access" (http://secunia.com/advisories/9957/ ), "Windows Media Player Interaction with Local Zone8" (http://secunia.com/advisories/9358/), "Microsoft Outlook Express MHTML URL Processing Vulnerability" (http://secunia.com/advisories/11067/ ), and "Internet Explorer/Outlook Express Restricted Zone Status Bar Spoofing" (http://secunia.com/advisories/11273/ ). At the time of this writing—six months after it was reported—the last of these security issues still has not been fixed.


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