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Tuesday, 22 December 2009 11:13

Microsoft white list stuffs up security

Written by Nick Farell

Image

Damned if you do, damned if you don't


Insecurity
experts have been hassling Microsoft over the use of white lists. Microsoft has been recommending that users exclude some file extensions and folders from antivirus scans, because it thinks that they will be safe. Having a scanner look at all files takes a lot of time and mostly pointless, Redmond thinks.

In a document published on its support site, Microsoft suggests that users do not scan some files and folders for malware as a way to improve performance in Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2.

"These files are not at risk of infection. If you scan these files, serious performance problems may occur because of file locking," Microsoft states in the document However security experts say that is the sort of attitude that gets computers infected and Microsoft may be putting users at risk. Among the files and folders Microsoft tells users to exclude are those associated with Windows Update and Group Policy, and files with the .edb., .sdb and .chk extensions contained within the "%windir%\security folder.

Trend Micro said that while the list was ok it should never have been made public. David Sancho, a malware researcher with Trend Micro, in an entry to his firm's blog claimed that the list could be a boon to hackers.

"Cybercriminals may strategically drop or download a malicious file into one of the folders that are recommended to be excluded from scanning, or use a file extension that is also in the excluded list," he said.

Nick Farell

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