This week let’s revisit security issues. No not about viruses as most of these have pretty much been corralled successfully. Either by improved and more efficient detection techniques. Or because most users are now “aware” of the issue. Nor is this about spyware. It’s about operating system security in general. And installing of patches in particular.
It’s a stated fact that the most predominant operating system (OS) today is Windows. And of this the largest chunk is occupied by Windows XP. As well as its Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Service Pack 2 (SP2) variants. And of all the Windows XP installations, I (conservatively) estimate that at least 40% of these copies are illegal. Even though they are activated and often able to download the various system upgrades released by Microsoft!
For a system administrator perspective, I really hate multiple Windows installations that choose to auto-update from a common update set. But at differing schedules. All of which clogs up bandwidth. Instead I’d much prefer to have a single administrative update (for each Windows variant) that could be deployed to multiple machines. Now before any readers jump all over me on this, I’m aware of such administrative updates. But so far have found them limited to service pack releases alone.
Oh I agree that its important to keep your copy of Windows updated. But perhaps every month Microsoft could release a round-up of all patches available. Contained within a single ISO file. And distributed as a BitTorrent file. The latter action would help reduce the Microsoft’s outbound network traffic. And while a start has been made in this direction with the January 5th and 10th patch releases ISO file (see Thunderbird 1.5 Hot GMail Manager Even Hotter).
Contrast this with Neowin’s AutoPatcher sub-site. That offers a complete set of patches and system tweaks rolled into a Windows variant-specific release. Available in full, lite and update versions. Right now there are downloads available for
- Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (32-bit)
- Windows XP Service Pack 2 (32-bit)
- Windows XP x64 Edition (Beta)
- Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (32-bit)
I was helping a friend setup a new notebook computer that came with a bare bones version of Windows XP. Without even SP2. Luckily I had a copy of the latter on an old PC Quest CD-ROM. So we didn’t need to download 350+ MB from the Net. A daunting prospect even when you have a 1 mbps connection. Once we got the basic OS working with its firewall activated. The next step was to upgrade Windows.
Instead of allowing Windows Update to do that one file at a time. I instead chose to use AutoPatcher Lite to get the most critical update set all together. The Lite version is approximately 98 MB but is luckily available in both Torrent and standard download versions. Once done we then downloaded the AutoPatcher Jan 2006 update (contains KB908519: Security Update for Windows XP
KB912919: Security Update for Windows XP; KB890830: Malicious Software Removal Tool v1.12) as well. The install process is intelligent enough to correctly detect which updates and tweaks have already been applied. The Dec 2005 update took just under 14 minutes to complete. With the Jan 2006 one under 3 minutes.
Other updates in the week that was include Total Commander 6.54 Public Beta 3 released on January 26, 2005 that fixed several bugs including warning of insufficient space on target drive for Windows XP, re-adding a file edited with F4 to an archive, the flag PK_PACK_SAVE_PATHS was not set for files in subdirs, changed INI file location was not saved if user used the “Back” button and went through ini location page again without changing anything and when synchonizing folders/drives if *.* was missing in the wildcards list, but the list contained an item starting with *.*, then Windows chose this item automatically -> add *.* manually to list.
Also updated was CCleaner 1.27.242 Beta on January 22, 2006. Changes include secure file deletion, Windows HotFix Uninstaller cleaning, restyled Startup program list, cleaning for Grisoft AVG 7.0, TUGZip, AntiVir Personal Edition, minor display fixes, and updated cleaning for MSN Messenger, DVD Shrink, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Adobe Photoshop CS2.
And last but not the least there’s SpyDefense 0.9.5.122 for those folks who don’t use either a firewall, antivirus, or regularly run anti-spyware scan on their computers. SpyDefense scans the system memory, registry and file system for tracking cookies and protects against Internet Explorer hijacking programs.
Well, that wraps it for this week. Stay Safe until next time.