The Lite Side

FBI on WinXP Security Flaws

- 2001.12.26

This just in from the Lite Side's Washington bureau:

WASHINGTON - The FBI's cybercrime unit warned consumers today to take additional steps beyond those recommended by Microsoft to protect against hackers who might try to exploit flaws discovered in the newest version of Windows software, Windows XP.

In addition to installing a free software fix offered by Microsoft, users were also told to disable the product's "universal plug and play" features. Other security fixes suggested to secure XP include:

  • Users have little to worry about if the computer is not connected to the Internet, say experts. "It would be a good idea to not even have a phone or cable TV in the same room as your Windows computer," said Nelson Bloodstone, with the National Windows Flaw Management Unit of the FBI. "As a matter of fact, if you had your own independent power supply not connected to the national power grid, that wouldn't hurt either - if you get my meaning. "
  • A computer which is not operable cannot be hacked. "Next time you get the blue screen of death, just leave it there," said Bloodstone. "What's the worst thing that could happen? Some hacker might come along and fix your computer."
  • Never, ever plug anything into your computer. "Embedded chips inside of digital cameras surreptitiously send signals to hackers," according to WarEz RooolZ, a hacker we talked to last night on an AOL chat board. "As soon as you plug it in, it starts sending us pictures of your house. And if you leave your wallet within ten feet of your scanner, you're screwed."

Other tips on the list include:

  • A recently formatted hard drive is a more secure hard drive.
  • OS/2 Warp is so secure that we can't find a copy to test for security flaws.
  • Terrorists posing as computer programmers are probably the source of most of the flaws of Windows software. FBI agents plan to interview everyone in Redmond who talks like a programmer but can't actually program. This screening is expected to take several years.
  • A Windows computer could be considered reasonably secure if there was not any actual software on it.
  • Just because your computer's keyboard doesn't work doesn't mean the computer cannot be hacked.
  • Wipe the hard drive and reinstall from the CD every day. You'll need to be in close contact with Microsoft because of the multiple install restrictions on Windows.
  • Don't use Linux, because it's a "foreign operating system (FOS)." The FBI can't protect you if it can't hack into your computer.
  • Consumers are reminded (yet again) that just because there aren't many viruses and worms and Trojan horses for the Mac, that might not be the case in the future. There isn't anything inherent to the Mac OS that prevents hackers from doing the same thing they do to Windows every day. "The possibility of a future threat is just as dangerous as an already hacked computer," said Twindell Llarrssenn, manager of the FBI's Possibly UnAmerican OS Warning Group. "Macs might start being hacked any second now. Any second like . . . now. Or now. Or even . . . now. You never know."

Microsoft responded to these tips by reminding everyone to download and install the latest security patch for Windows. In fact, Windows XP is so advanced, it automatically connects to the Internet and reinstalls itself without telling you, just for your convenience. These reinstalls occur once a week whether or not an upgrade is posted, "just in case we find another flaw," according to an unnamed Microsoft spokesman who works in cubicle 42128 in Building G at the sprawling Redmond campus.

Of course, after three such installs, the system stops working altogether, providing the "ultimate in security from Microsoft."

Jeff Adkins is a science teacher who isn't afraid to state his preferences in computing platforms. In his classroom he has everything from a Quadra 700 to a 500 MHz CD/R-CD/RW iMac, and they all work together nicely. He also writes Mac Lab Report for Low End Mac. and maintains a site for astronomy teachers at

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