For those of us who are using any of Microsoft’s products such as Windows XP, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Outlook, or Office, we have accepted the fact that our systems are vulnerable to attack and in need of updates and patches. And Microsoft has sent us numerous updates and service packs to plug these vulnerabilities.

And I recall a statement made by Bill Gates, some five years ago or so, in which he stated that security was going to be one of Microsoft’s major concerns and that his company would concentrate on making the Windows operating system more secure. And plug the holes they did. But for every hole that got plugged, it seemed another would surface.

And so after five years of development and at a cost of some seven billion dollars, (by one estimate I read some have estimated nine to ten billion dollars), the hope was that Vista would be more secure. The Windows kernel, which was described simply as the nuts and bolts of the operating system, has been isolated in the hopes that this will prevent attacks. Security measures are in place that ask the user if they are sure they wish a certain application to make changes or not, and a new firewall has been added to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. All of these measures are an attempt to offer us greater protections.

Even Internet Explorer 7 has increased security and added functions like anti-phishing to protect us from identity theft, anti-spyware to prevent unwanted rogue programs from infecting our systems, and better controls that ask for our permission before some action takes place.

Then why do I feel that the measures may not be good enough? Because we are starting to pick up little snippets here and there on the Web that the hackers are already planning to attack Vista. It seems that the bad guys want to make a statement to Microsoft that no matter what it tries to protect, someone can expose a vulnerability. So there is a good chance we may be continuing to patch our systems, even for those who choose to upgrade to Vista.

I remember mentioning to a friend of mine that I was using Windows Defender to help protect my computer and he stated “that’s like hiring a fox to guard the henhouse!” I just smiled at the time. But it does make one wonder. How much trust should we place in Microsoft to guard our systems?

That’s a question each of us will have to ask ourselves in the next few months.

[tags]vista, attacks, hackers, secure, protect, [/tags]