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XP/Vista Stealth Updated by Microsoft Without User Consent

XP/Vista Stealth Updated by Microsoft Without User Consent

by , 4:15 PM EDT, September 13th, 2007

This week, some Windows users have noted that, even though they had the Auto-update option turned off, Microsoft accessed their system and made modifications, according to Windows Secrets on Thursday.

"It's surprising that these files can be changed without the user's knowledge. The Automatic Updates dialog box in the Control Panel can be set to prevent updates from being installed automatically. However, with Microsoft's latest stealth move, updates to the WU executables seem to be installed regardless of the settings — without notifying users," Scott Dunn reported.

This isn't the first time this has happened, but previously when Microsoft updated svchost.exe, the Windows Update site notified user that the software needed to be installed. This time, it happend without notice.

The author noted, "These files are by no means viruses, and Microsoft appears to have no malicious intent in patching them. However, writing files to a user's PC without notice (when auto-updating has been turned off) is behavior that's usually associated with hacker Web sites. The question being raised in discussion forums is, 'Why is Microsoft operating in this way?' "

In Microsoft's defense, the updates appear to be to the update system itself. If the updates were not installed, no further updates could be activated when the user turned on the Auto-update option. However, many corporate and government sites insist that no changes be made to their installations without prior testing by them. Microsoft could have notified the users that the update to the update system was mandatory, but let the IT Managers decide whther or not to proceed.

Microsoft, apparently, elected not to do that.

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