I took a quick look at the headlines on CNET News.com, and one in particular caught my eye. The story is titled “Windows Wi-Fi vulnerability discovered“, and given that I use wireless networks all the time, I decided I should take a look. Here’s how the article describes the problem:
When a PC running Windows XP or Windows 2000 boots up, it will automatically try to connect to a wireless network. If the computer can’t set up a wireless connection, it will establish an ad hoc connection to a local address. This is assigned with an IP address and Windows associates this address with the SSID of the last wireless network it connected to.
The machine will then broadcast this SSID, looking to connect with other computers in the immediate area.
The idea is that a hacker could then connect to the computer and compromise it. All of that I understand. Yet as I was reading this, I kept thinking to myself, “that’s not what happens when there are no wireless networks.” I don’t experience what is described above! Then I realized why.
A full nine paragraphs into the story:
MessageLabs believes that users running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) are not at risk.
There’s no way they could have mentioned that earlier? All this kind of story does is spread needless FUD about Windows. If you have a properly updated machine, you’re fine! Not only that, but any firewall (like the one built-in to XP and enabled by default in SP2) would prevent any such problem.
If nothing else, I hope Windows Vista is regarded as secure, so that I don’t have to put up with articles such as this one. No matter your religious affiliation, the current Windows stuff is pretty solid. And no matter what operating system you use, if you don’t keep it properly updated, you do so at your own risk!
Read: CNET News.com