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ZDNet: Outlook vulnerability feeds MS flames

May 05, 2000, 17:03 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rebecca Buckman)

[ Thanks to George Mitchell for this link. ]

"Microsoft Corp. has been busy deflecting charges that it's a monopoly lately, but its dominance in one corner of the software market became glaringly obvious Thursday."

"The "ILOVEYOU" or "Love Bug" virus spread so fast mainly because it was designed to replicate through Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) popular Outlook e-mail system, a fixture on most desktop PCs. "When over 90% of the world's computers are on the same platform, the same software, they become extremely vulnerable to attack," says Carey Nachenberg, a research director at computer-security concern Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) in Cupertino, Calif."

"...as companies and individuals installed quick patches to disable the virus Thursday, it became clear there was no love lost between some computer-industry veterans and Microsoft, Outlook's designer. Some say the technology inside Outlook that helped replicate the love virus isn't one that all users necessarily need, but is typical of the kind of customizable features Microsoft likes to include in its products."

"It's flabbergasting how fast [the virus] goes," says Richard M. Smith, the now-retired president of Pharlap Software in Cambridge and an expert in software-security flaws. ... Smith criticizes the automatic-e-mail function in Outlook as unnecessarily risky, and says most users would never want to run VBScript files -- which generally automate a series of tasks -- straight off their e-mail anyway."

"...[for MS] to sell it to consumers with minimal safeguards is a problem, says Joe Chung, the chief technology officer at Art Technology Group Inc., a maker of e-commerce software in Cambridge, Mass. "These types of viruses have been really well-known for years. It's kind of like if someone went around building houses, and made it so that anyone could get in through the basement."

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