Microsoft teams up with US gov on double 'ard XP

More secure config open to all. Ish


Microsoft has teamed with the US government to refine a locked-down, more secure configuration of Windows XP.

Originally developed by the US Air Force in cooperation with Microsoft, the special XP set-up uses hardened Group Policy Objects (a technology in Microsoft's Active Directory) and images, which the Air Force used as the standard OS image for its desktop Windows machines.

The project evolved into the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (fdcc) recommendations maintained by US standards organisation NIST. Sys admins can download the configuration along with group policy objects.

Earlier reports by Wired suggested that Microsoft has worked with the government to develop a secure configuration of XP for use by the military and that this might be somehow out of reach to the hoi polloi, who are left with a system whose out-of-the-box configuration leaves it open to all manner of worms as soon as it's connected to the net.

The suggestion was that the Air Force use its purchasing muscle to persuade Microsoft into delivering a secure configuration of Windows XP.

Roger Grimes, a security architect on the ACE Team within Microsoft, said that the original article was incorrect and that "there isn't a special version of Windows for the Air Force."

"They use the same SKUs as everyone else. We didn't deliver a special settings that only the Air Force can access," he said.

Microsoft consultants worked with the Air Force and later the federal government in refining this configuration, tailored to fit within a broader security policy framework.

"A lot of the other improvements, such as patching, came from the use of better tools, and were not necessarily solely due to the changes in the base image (although that certainly didn't hurt). So, it seems the author mixed up some of the different technology pushes and wrapped them up into a single story," Grimes added in comment to Bruce Schneier's security blog.

Talk of the under-publicised project has generated a lively debate on Schneier's blog and elsewhere on the net this week. Numerous stories have repeated the original (incorrect) line that the configuration is only available to the military.

So the version is available to anyone - or at least anyone with funds enough to pay either Microsoft or a consultant to implement it. An additional snag is that this configuration will not be suitable for all environments and may get in the way of some applications. So don't feel too left out. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021