If it weren’t for that darned Internet, personal computing would be a lot of fun. After all, it’s the Internet that lets all those socially stunted hackers enter our machines, unleashing their viruses, setting up remote hacking tools, feeding us spyware, trying to trick us out of our credit-card numbers, and otherwise making our lives an endless troubleshooting session. It sure would be nice if they’d cultivate some other hobbies.
In the meantime, these lowlifes are doing astronomical damage to businesses and individuals around the world—along the lines of $100 billion a year (the cost to fight viruses, spyware, and spam).
A big part of the problem was the design of Windows itself. In the quaint old-fashioned days of 2000, when Windows XP was designed, these sorts of Internet attacks were far less common. Microsoft left open a number of back doors that were intended for convenience (for example, to let system administrators communicate with your PC from across the network) but wound up being exploited by hackers.
Microsoft wrote Windows Vista, and later Windows 7, for a lot of reasons: to give Windows a cosmetic makeover, to give it up-to-date music and video features, to overhaul its networking plumbing—and, of course, to make money. But Job Number One was making Windows more secure. Evil strangers will still make every attempt to make your life miserable, but one thing is for sure: They’ll have a much, much harder time of it.
This chapter focuses ...