The Vista stories keep coming – Vista bad news for small security companies

VuNet has an article today on the coming of Vista and the imminent doom of the smaller security companies. The hardest hit will be anti-spyware and personal firewall vendors they say. It may well be true, it does sound like a different approach to user permissions (limited priviliges by default?) IE7 running in a sandbox, i.e. no permission to touch anything else …. which should cut down on the spread of browser exploits turning machines into spyware infested bots…

Of course, given Microsoft’s track record I have to be skeptical that all of this will work the way it’s claimed and will get rid of the two classes of 3rd party software singled out. They say the firewall software will be hard hit because Vista includes a firewall…. (I seem to recall hearing that SP2 would be the end of the personal firewall market…) Yes, I know Vista’s firewall will be capable of blocking outgoing traffic as well as incoming which is an improvement over XP, but that feature will be disabled by default.

Maybe they’re right, maybe the antispyware software communities days are numbered. Personal firewall vendors – I don’t know – I think there will always be someone that wants a third-party product to deal with firewall functions. I can’t help but wonder what other chinks there will be in the “armor”- maybe none, hopefully none. I wonder though, if IE 7 runs in a sandbox that can’t touch user/system files… what about a third party browser? Is it possible for a 3rd party browser to be sandboxed similarly, or will this mean IE7 will be necessary for secure browsing? If it is possible to do for other browsers, will it be easy, or require registry surgery? Will it be something that can be handled by the installer. For that matter, this is probably an approach that ANY application that pulls and renders content from the internet should be capable of, ftp, http, what about mail?

I found an interesting comment on a zdnet post about sandboxing a browser (or really any application) under linux. The idea being to run the application as a user that has no rights or permissions to YOUR files, or to the system files. By the way, the above prediction of Vista being the end for anti-spyware and personal firewall makers comes from the same company that’s predicting slow uptake of Vista. So, even if they’re right on all points the end is maybe not imminent. And if they are, I’m sure there will be other issues security companies can work on to improve the user experience on Vista. Of course, maybe Vista will be the most stable, secure and robust Windows operating system ever making operating system problems a thing of the past…. but then that sounds familiar.

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