Many of us have been using Windows XP for quite sometime in it’s many forms and versions. We have Media Center Edition, Windows XP SP1 and the one which is now most common Windows XP SP2. An independent demonstration of vulnerabilities by the British Government and Private industry (which was also an indirect drive to get more people to shift to the more recently released Windows Vista) to show a wide open gap in the security measures implemented by computers still using Windows XP SP1 without any protection (anti-virus, firewall and other upgrades implemented by the parent company after the products were released to the public).
The test involved two officers from a special task force that handles crimes such as those related to computer fraud, piracy etc. It showed how easy it was to get hold of tools that searched for vulnerabilities on a computer running the said Operating system without the owner/user even knowing about it. These tools are widespread on the internet and can be downloaded for free. After getting knowledge of the vulnerability list which can include open ports and much other wireless vulnerability, the second officer then proceeded to make a program in MS-DOS which was then sent and executed onto the victim computer.
Viola, in a matter of minutes the second officer has gotten hold of many vital files such as password lists, credit card information, bank statements and other personal information that may be stored into the said victim unit under a quarter of a minute.
Many such vulnerabilities have been discovered in the XP generation of Operating Systems since its release in 2003 and Microsoft has continued to come out with patches to resolve such issues. Vulnerabilities such as simple programs that can disable the windows firewall have been publicly released on the internet and are quite numerous. To date, Microsoft has managed to keep up with these vulnerabilities but XP remains open malicious attack. Asked for their opinion, a Microsoft executive replied that it truly was alarming but that all those vulnerabilities have been addressed with the release of XP SP2 and all subsequent updates and patches.