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Thu 30 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Longhorn to focus on security

Microsoft's next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, will bolster PC security by employing new and improved security features.

Microsoft's next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, will bolster PC security by employing new and improved security features.

Some of the features already in the pipeline include Trusted Platform Module (TPM) v1.2 chips, which create a secure hardware zone inside a PC, so that security programs work without the fear of being tampered.

According to Microsoft, this technology should deter hackers who use alternative boot media to reset administrative passwords or install malicious software.

In addition, all data on the hard drive including operating system components, user data, temporary files, and hibernation files will be automatically encrypted, without requiring any interaction by the user.

Longhorn will also provide better user account protection by allowing users to change such settings with limited privileges only, rather than full administrator rights. This is because logging into a system with full administrative privileges makes a computer more vulnerable to malware attacks, whereby malware such as viruses or trojans can capture passwords and keystrokes entered into a PC and send them back to the person who sent them through an internet connection.

Therefore the more often an administrator needs to log onto a network PC, the more network security might be compromised. At present, changing minor settings such as Windows’ time zone settings requires administrator-level privileges, but with Longhorn this won’t be the case.

Tasks such as installing applications or adding hardware will still need full administrator access. However, with Longhorn the administrator won’t need to log-off a PC and log in again for administrative access, instead they would simply enter their administrator password. As a result, network security should not be compromised.

Windows Service Hardening is a Longhorn new platform service, similar to a firewall, which will monitor critical Windows services for unusual file system, registry and network activity. If this security service detects unusual behaviour such as a worm or trojan activity, it will automatically block it.

Finally, Longhorn will also support security features expected in future processors from Intel (LaGrande) and AMD (Pacifica and Presidio).

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