One For The Record Books (12/20/01)

Hey, guess what? Something amazing happened today. Ready for this? They found a Microsoft security hole. Wait, don't leave! Yes, we know that Microsoft security flaws are about as rare as pennies with Lincoln's picture on them, but this one is different: it's bad. Really bad. So bad it makes most Microsoft security holes look like terrific new features they should be advertising in boldface caps on the box with lots of exclamation points. Yea verily, this is the great-granddaddy of all Windows vulnerabilities. (This is the part where you're supposed to gasp audibly and one or two of you actually faint for effect.)

Actually, technically the bug was discovered several weeks ago, but it was apparently kept pretty hush-hush until now. Faithful viewer David McConnell tipped us off to an Associated Press article which leads off with one of the greatest introductions we've ever seen: "Microsoft's newest version of Windows, billed as the most secure ever, contains several serious flaws that allow hackers to steal or destroy a victim's data files across the Internet or implant rogue computer software. The company released a free fix Thursday." Gosh, all they did is put the personal data of millions of customers at terrifying risk, and the fix is free? The newfound benevolence of Redmond never ceases to amaze us. Clearly that whole Justice Department brouhaha did some good after all.

And the amazement just keeps on coming, because Microsoft actually seems to be admitting the gravity of the situation, calling it a "very serious vulnerability" and acknowledging that "the risk to consumers was unprecedented because the glitches allow hackers to seize control of all Windows XP operating system software without requiring a computer user to do anything except connect to the Internet." We are stunned-- stunned, we tell you-- that Microsoft hasn't therefore simply blamed the Internet for the problem. What's this world coming to?

By the way, no, there's no word on whether this was one of those "trojans, trapdoors, and bugs" that a captured terrorist insists Al Qaeda managed to stick into Windows XP, but feel free to incorporate that possibility into your own twisted world view sans evidence if you like. Meanwhile, word has it that Microsoft has "forcefully urged" all users to install the patch right away, although we noticed a distinct lack of any mention of the problem whatsoever when we visited the company's home page. Maybe things haven't changed that much after all. Those of you running Windows XP should probably hunt down and install that patch ASAP; those of you who are just itching to exploit that vulnerability can rest easy in the knowledge that even if Microsoft calls every single registered user of XP, there's still going to be a fair percentage of people who won't bother to apply the patch. So take your time.

In closing, Microsoft is clearly the company with whom you want to trust your sensitive personal and financial information. Oooooh yeah, .NET and Passport just sound better and better all the time...

SceneLink (3467)
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The above scene was taken from the 12/20/01 episode:

December 20, 2001: Sproingers rejoice; word gets out that Mac OS X 10.2 will support spring-loaded folders. Meanwhile, ranked fifth in traffic among "e-tailers" last month, and Microsoft owns up to a big, scary hole in Windows XP that makes a default installation completely vulnerable to control by hackers as soon as the system is on the Internet...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3465: 10.2: Aqua Goes Sproingy (12/20/01)   Getting tired of nudging Software Update every twenty seconds in the hope that Mac OS X 10.1.2 will finally appear? What you need is to start looking at the Big Picture, pal. Fretting about these imminent bug-fix point releases accomplishes nothing...

  • 3466: Number Five With A Bullet (12/20/01)   When we encounter that hideous term "e-tailer," businesses like and come to mind; we think of companies that exist (or, after the dot-com bust, fail to exist) exclusively to sell stuff on the 'net...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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