McAfee accuses Microsoft of endangering Vista users

Security vendors demand access to kernel

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By  Published  October 13, 2006

Microsoft has been attacked by security vendors who claim that refusing them access to the central code — or kernel — of its forthcoming Vista operating system (OS) will put users at risk.

McAfee is the latest vendor to openly criticise Microsoft. It took out a full-page advertisement in UK newspaper The Financial Times in which it accused the software giant of envisioning "a world in which one giant company not only controls the systems that drive most computers around the world but also the security that protects those computers."

In the advert the firm urged Microsoft to give independent security vendors more access to Vista's kernel so that they could develop software to counter potential vulnerabilities in the OS. It claimed that Microsoft had taken an entirely proprietary approach to securing Vista by embedding in the OS its own Windows Security Centre — a product which cannot be disabled even when users purchase an alternative solution.

This approach, the security firm claimed in the advertisement, could endanger users.

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

The company went on to add that it would not remain silent as Microsoft imposes "unnecessary security risks."

Patrick Hayati, regional director for McAfee Middle East, said he believed customers are at risk because many of the serious threats facing Microsoft users were because of inherent weaknesses in the OS.

"We really need to be able to protect Microsoft users. Everyone knows that most of the flaws are because of Microsoft. Obviously customers know that and they will look beyond Microsoft. We need to work with Microsoft to help their and our customers stay secure," he said. "There are other methods to come up with the required security, but it would be a lot easier and a lot more straightforward if we all worked together to make it happen."

Earlier this month security vendor Symantec also accused Microsoft of trying to gain an unfair advantage in the security market by withholding key information on Vista.

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