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Vendors claim that being denied access to the core of Vista seriously hampers their ability to protect users

McAfee Inc. has thrown down the gauntlet in its dispute with Microsoft's decision to lock down the core of their Vista operating system. The security software vendor has a full-page ad in today's Financial Times which berates Microsoft.

McAfee argues that Microsoft is making its upcoming Windows Vista operating system far more difficult to protect by locking non-Microsoft processes out of the kernel. Symantec had a similar beef with this move by Microsoft which was reported on recently by Windows IT Pro:

Symantec has also complained about a new security feature called Kernel PatchGuard that prevents software--malicious or otherwise--from altering the Windows kernel at runtime. In the past, security companies have been forced to patch the Windows kernel because so much malicious software does so as well. That process will not be possible in Windows Vista, which should make the system more secure. Symantec wants it removed.

Microsoft claims that this will keep Vista more secure by allowing only certified programs to access vital components of Windows, but McAfee openly mocks this in its advertisement by challenging:

"Microsoft is being completely unrealistic if, by locking security companies out of the kernel, it thinks hackers won't crack Vista's kernel. In fact, they already have."

A Microsoft representative dismissed this accusation, citing a close relationship with security partners during the development of Windows Vista. On the other side of the coin, vendor Trend Micro currently has a beta release of their anti-virus software available for Vista, which may have prompted other companies to suspect preferential treatment.

A scan of the article was unavailable at the time of this posting.

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RE: What's the beef?
By dwalton on 10/2/2006 5:23:18 PM , Rating: 3

Group A. A bunch of people crying about needing MS to give them access to the kernel so their software will work to protect us.

Group B. A bunch of people that need no such help from MS to access the Vista's kernel for malicious means.

How do we really expect Group A to protect us from Group B? Does McAfee and Norton really need MS expressed permission to allow their software to have access to Vista's kernel? If so, then I understand, but if not then I doubt that somebody who can't crack the kernel can protect us from those who can.

RE: What's the beef?
By lemonadesoda on 10/2/2006 5:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
I think the concern is that if Group A use a "hack" to protect against Group B, then the "hack" or backdoor once discovered by MS will be closed, and the Group A code no longer works.

Imagine buying some anti-virus software, and it only worked for a few weeks until MS closed the backdoor.


However, I think the issue is moot, since, to my understanding, MS will allow some "certified" access to kernal. So McAfee are complaining that they now need "certification" which, I'm sure, costs time and money.

Just wait until the EU hears of this practice. They will insist on an "open" European version.

RE: What's the beef?
By kkwst2 on 10/3/2006 12:17:26 AM , Rating: 3
The Europeans can have their open software. I'll take my secure kernel.

My issue with security software is that the cure is almost as bad as (or sometimes badder (sic) than) the disease. If there's one thing that causes slow downs, annoying behavior, and crashes more than anything else, it's security software. My experience is that Norton is the worst, followed closely by McAfee. I've had better luck with PC-Cillin, although I use McAfee now because it is free with my ISP.

The only program (including malware) that has completely hosed my OS to the point I had to start over and reinstall XP was Norton.

RE: What's the beef?
By BikeDude on 10/3/2006 2:46:08 AM , Rating: 4
I share your observation that the cure is worse than the disease. I have not used security software since... Oh, 1988? Number of infections and problems? Zero. Except that one time I installed some Norton product; Inserting a floppy suddenly triggered a BSOD with NT4. I uninstalled Norton rather than install their hotfix for that particular problem.

Bottom line with most (all?) security products: You're only protected as long as you run with the _very_ latest in malicious code signatures. Miss one signature update and your life is basically hanging in a very thin thread, specially if you think you can relax on the OS updates.

Besides, if you're just a bit careful (e.g. disable ActiveX and Javascript when surfing, and refuse to open mail attachments), you've ruled out pretty much all threats. Add a simple firewall with NAT functionality, and you're for all intents and purposes sealed off from the rest of the world. (yes, there are some exceptions, e.g. the hole discovered in IE's jpeg rendering engine, but these are rare and must be patched by MS rather than Symantec anyway...)

This philosophy may not help the average user, but they're basically screwed in any case. Vista could help a lot since MS finally takes away administrator access from regular users. Protecting the kernel is a nice touch too. (and already being done in x64 XP, no?)

It is a badly kept secret that McAfee and friends are overcharging for inferior software. I hope their ad backfires.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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