Windows Vista features
Windows Vista is a different breed than previous
Windows Vista: Adoption considerations
But, before deciding to adopt Windows Vista based on its features, there are other security-related factors to consider.
First, users should be prepared for the additional security alerts they'll encounter, since alerts now pop up whenever a security or policy enforcement event occurs. This increased exposure could lead to user-click fatigue. Even worse for admins, many of these warnings provide little help when trying to resolve problems. For example, permission prompts currently state that an application is doing something it shouldn't without explaining exactly what. Legacy software may encounter problems with permissions when trying to update supporting DDL files. Hopefully the revised event log and monitoring-notification system will help with problem diagnosis.
While Windows Vista doesn't appear to have any killer must-have features or functionality, it is clearly a better operating system than its predecessors. The kernel mode security enhancements are quite substantial, resulting in a dramatic reduction of its overall attack surface. Features like native support for IPv6 support, BitLocker Drive Encryption, USB device control, and the hundreds of other security features will, over time, make the day-to-day lives of many administrators a lot easier. In the meantime, admins should expect a few sleepless nights given the upgrade path complexities, hardware compatibility issues and user education needs. My advice to those considering early adoption: don't do it. Instead, wait and see if any exploits or flaws are found. Now that Vista is available to everyone, its security features are subject to the accelerated cycle of real-world vulnerability testing, and that will be telling. So don't be afraid to take the time to evaluate it and test just how beneficial it will be in your own environment.
About the Author: This was first published in February 2007
Michael Cobb, CISSP-ISSAP is the founder and managing director of Cobweb Applications Ltd., a consultancy that offers IT training and support in data security and analysis. He co-authored the book IIS Security and has written numerous technical articles for leading IT publications. Mike is the guest instructor for several SearchSecurity Security Schools and, as a SearchSecurity.com site expert, answers user questions on application security and platform security.
This was first published in February 2007