Since the beginnings of the Windows OS, Microsoft has been fighting a two-fronted battle. One side of the battle is the home user market, which has traditionally been fed simplified versions of Windows that do not incorporate much in the way of security. On the other side is the workstation/server side of Windows, which offers at least a semblance of security for server-based applications. While this division allowed for consumer choice, the disparity between the two operating systems forced Microsoft to support and maintain two totally different code bases. Microsoft had a divided front.
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We have divided Windows security into client and server attacks. The current chapter focuses on client-side attacks, while the next chapter focuses on server attacks.
While this problem became obvious in the early 1990s, if not earlier, it nevertheless took almost a decade to successfully combine heightened security with a simplified GUI that the average user could understand. Thus, in 2001, the world witnessed the birth of Windows XP, an easy-to-use, security-conscious operating system that makes a computer administrator out of almost any user ”at least in theory.
While Windows XP is more secure than most of its desktop predecessors, it is not as secure as Microsoft would have you believe. This chapter details several of the most damaging attacks against Windows XP.