The Windows Operating System Computer Science Essay

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Windows is a personal computer operating system from Microsoft that, together with some commonly used business applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Word and Excel, has become a de facto "standard" for individual users in most corporations as well as in most homes. It provides a graphical user interface (GUI), virtual memory management, multitasking, and support for many peripheral devices. According to OneStat.com, as of August, 2006, Windows as a whole dominates the personal computer world, running on about 97% of the operating system market share, with XP accounting for about 87% of that. In comparison Mac OS has about 2% and Linux (with all distributions) about .36% The reason why this is so is mainly because Windows is much more user friendly and everything comes pre-packaged so user just have to run the application and follow instructions for it to install.

There are many versions of Windows Operating System available namely:

Among all those versions, Windows XP is the most popular one and it is used by 61.9 percent of Internet users, according to data from Net Applications, followed by Windows 7 which has 14.46 percent of users and Vista -14.34 percent.

A Brief Story On Windows

Windows mainly concentrated on providing an operating system which was user-friendly, stable and less prone to crashes when they were implementing earlier versions. Now, even though XP is generally referred to being stable and efficient compared to other copies of Windows, it is still critised for being overly susceptible to security risks. Therefore the successor of XP- Vista, released in January of 2007 was designed in such a way so as it provides more security. The transition time between Vista and XP is the longest one between versions of windows.

Vulnerabilities Of Windows

What is a vulnerability?- It is a weakness that makes a threat possible.

These vulnerabilities are used by attackers who exploits them to convey multiple attack, including enticing the users to open harmful and malicious media or to visit website which has a lot of viruses.

These can have a lot of consequences. In the worst case, a hacker or attacker can get full access to the computer. Fortunately, windows provide a lot of solution to these vulnerabilities. The user just has to install the appropriate Microsoft patches or they are sometimes installed automatically with the help of Windows Update.

Window Update

Vulnerabilities can be compared to holes. They are like holes in the system. Windows periodically releases security patches mostly as Window Updates to fix those defects. There exists different level of security known as the security level system in Windows which describes the different levels of security holes:

A critical security hole is a vulnerability whose exploitation could allow the propagation of an Internet worm without user action.

An important hole is A vulnerability whoses exploitation could result in compromise of the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of users data, or of the integrity or availability of processing recources.

A moderate security rating signifies that Exploitability could result is mitigated to a significant degree by factors such as default configuration, auditing or difficulty of exploitation.

And a low hole is A vulnerability whose exploitation is extremely difficult or whose impact is minimal.

Source:

Windows XP all-in-one desk reference for dummies

Below is a list of Vulnerabilities in Windows

MS10-033: Two Media Decompression Code Execution Vulnerabilities

Description: It involves vulnerabilities in Media Decompression.

Windows ships with various components that help it process and play media files, such as videos. According to Microsoft, these media handling components suffer from two unspecified code execution vulnerabilities, involving the way they handle compressed data within specially crafted media.

Potential effect on system: An attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities by encouraging user to open specially crafted media file, download and install harmful software, by luring them to a website containing such media or by receiving specially crafted streaming content from a web site or any application that delivers Web content. In doing so, an attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities to gain the same user rights as the local user. If this happens, then the attacker will gain the complete control of that PC. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

Microsoft rating: Critical.

Solution: MS10-033. Since media files are most often the common targets of exploitation by attackers due to the increased potential for circulation via social group and the fact that it has been publicly been disclosed, it is estimated that the possibility that malware authors will look to exploit these types of vulnerabilities are high and hence, update must be installed.

Targeted Software:

? Windows 2000 Service Pack 4

? Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2

Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Service Pack 2

Windows Server 2003 Itanium based Systems No Pack & Service Pack 2

? Windows XP Service Pack 2 and 3 & Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2

? Windows Server 2008 No Service Pack & Service Pack 2

Windows Server 2008 x64 Edition No Service Pack & Service Pack 2

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium Based Systems No Pack& Service Pack 2

? Windows Vista Service Pack 1& 2

Windows Vista x64 Edition Service Pack 1 & 2

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