The FBI Underscores Seriousness Of XP's Secuirty Problem

Last week we reported on the huge security hole in Windows XP that Microsoft was scrambling to patch. The security hole had the potential of permitting major damage to occur to any PC running Windows XP, and PCs running Windows 95 and 98 which used a particular Internet sharing feature. Now, an update to the warning issued by the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), a unit of the FBI, underscores the seriousness of the problem and provides additional information. This from NIPC:

On Friday, December 21, 2001, the NIPC conducted technical discussions with Microsoft Corporation and other partners in the Internet and Information Security community to identify software and procedure practices to minimize the risk from this vulnerability.

The notice goes on to discus procedures for updating XP and other flavors of Windows that are vulnerable with the patch provided by Microsoft.

In a related story, articles from the Washington Post and CNN both state that Microsoft has sold more than 7 million copies of XP since it was released on Oct. 25, 2001. In a Reuters story on Dec. 24, the number of copies of XP Microsoft shipped since Oct. 25 is but a fraction of the number stated by Microsoft.

Microsoft has shipped at least 650,000 copies of XP since it was launched Oct. 25, not including units that ship with new PCs, according to market researcher NPD Intellect.

In view of the security problems, an accurate count of systems that are vulnerable would seem necessary. The number stated by Reuters would serve to minimize the problem, but would also minimize the sales claimed by Microsoft, which could bring the company under new scrutiny as investors will want to know which number is correct.