Security flaws hold back e-commerce

The multitude of security flaws in Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS) is beginning to impact the uptake of web services and e-commerce.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 5, 2002

Although the discovery of yet another security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS) is hardly ground breaking news, analysts at Gartner Group believe that the continued undermining of the OS is beginning to have a wider impact. For instance, the analyst house suggests that a distrust of the OS will reduce the adoption of web services and hold back e-commerce.

“The many Microsoft security vulnerabilities identified in recent months — may further undermine confidence in SSL, slow adoption of Web services, and create distrust of online commerce,” states the Gartner report.

So far, there have been a massive 48 security vulnerabilities identified in a Microsoft product in the first eight months of 2002. The latest of these is the discovery of a flaw in an ActiveX control in the Windows OS at the end of August, which could threaten the security of the digital certificates PCs use to connect to networks through the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

“The flaw is particularly problematical for enterprises that use Secure Multipurpose Internet Messaging Extensions (S/MIME) for e-mail or Encrypting File System (EFS) to protect files,” states the report.

If exploited by malicious script, the flaw invokes the vulnerable ActiveX control, which could be spread via a web page or e-mail. Such an attack would corrupt some of a user's data and make it useless.

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