After a week of extensive testing, the CRN Test Center found that users of Windows Vista and Windows XP are equally at risk to viruses and exploits and that overall Vista brings only marginal security advantages over XP.
One of Microsoft's big promises with Vista was a more secure operating system. But when stripped to the bare bones and thrown into the wild, wild Web, Vista's security failed to impress Test Center engineers.
Vista remains riddled with holes, despite its multilayer security architecture and embedded security tools. Besides providing no improvement in virus protection vs. XP, Vista brings little or no security gains over its predecessor against such threats as RDS exploits, script exploits, image exploits, VML exploits, malformed Web pages and known malicious URLs, the Test Center found.
Armed with two notebooks -- an HP Compaq 6515b notebook running Windows Vista Business 32-bit Edition with the 256-bit encryption version of Internet Explorer 7 and an HP Compaq nc6400 running Windows XP with the 128-bit encryption version of Internet Explorer 6 -- Test Center engineers probed both OSes with some of the most dangerous exploits known today.
To even the playing field, all of the HP ProtectTools Security Manager tools on both notebooks were shut down. None of the encryption tools and the password-protect options were initialized. In addition, HP's ProtectTools Application Protection Service was not activated. Only the default security features and settings on both OSes were kept.
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