By Matthew Broersma
05 December 2006
Windows Vista is wide open to nearly 40 percent of the malware currently
circulating, Microsoft has admitted, following a report by Sophos.
Remarkably, with the new operating system just released to business, the
software giant said in effect that there is nothing it can do about the
threats in question - Stratio-Zip, Netsky-D and MyDoom-O - because they
rely on social engineering to invade systems. The three threats together
account for 39.7 percent of currently circulating malware, according to
"Based on our initial investigation, Microsoft can confirm that these
variants do not take advantage of a security vulnerability, rather they
rely on social engineering to infect a user's system," Microsoft said in
While the email system built into Vista, Windows Mail Client, stops all
of the top 10 viruses identified by Sophos for November, the three
threats outlined can infect systems when a third-party email client is
used, Sophos said last week. Stratio-Zip was November's top malware,
accounting for one-third of virus traffic, Sophos said.
Sophos said that while no Vista-specific viruses have yet been detected,
they are likely to appear soon. "It won't be long before cyber criminals
develop Vista-specific malware or modify current threats to fit the
bill," said Ron O'Brien, Sophos senior security analyst, in a statement.
"The Stratio-Zip worm, for example, remains on the top ten list due to
constant, minor alterations to its code that force security systems to
re-identify the malware."
Few actual installations of Vista currently exist, since the OS was only
launched on Thursday. Sophos and McAfee have antivirus products ready
for Vista, but Symantec, Trend Micro and CA are still working on theirs.
Microsoft congratulated itself on the "aggressive security design
decisions" it took with Windows Mail Client, but said if users choose to
use other, more vulnerable email programs they can configure User
Account Control (UAC) to help limit the damage users can cause if
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