Security experts warn that No. 1 maker of desktop software is also No. 1 target for virus writers.The ubiquitous reach of Microsoft software on desktops worldwide has made computer networks a national security risk susceptible to "massive, cascading failures," computer security experts said.In a report unveiled Wednesday at an industry meeting in Washington, D.C., the experts said Microsoft is now the number one target for malicious computer virus writers. The report's authors told the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the industry group hosting the meeting, that the software's complexity has made it particularly vulnerable to attacks.
So far this year, two major viruses emerged that took advantage of flaws in Microsoft software. Slammer, which targeted computers running Microsoft's server-based software for databases, slowed down Internet traffic across the globe and shut down flight reservation systems and cash machines in the United States.
The Blaster worm burrowed through hundreds of thousands of computers, destroying data and launching attacks on other computers.
"The nature of the platform that dominates every desktop everywhere is such that its dominance, coupled with its insecurity, cannot be ignored and is a matter of corporate and national policy," said Dan Geer, a security consultant and chief technology officer of Stake, a computer security company.
Geer, along with other well-known computer security experts Rebecca Bace, Peter Gutmann, Perry Metzger, Charles Pfleeger, John Quarterman, and Bruce Schneier, said they issued their report to raise awareness of the risk to national security due to the wide-spread use of one software system. The authors said the report was a reflection of their own views and not necessarily those of the CCIA, an industry group of Microsoft's competitors that has a long history of suing the world's largest software maker.
But in response to the report, Americans for Technology Leadership, a trade group backed by Microsoft and other companies and organizations, called the report an attempt by the CCIA to exploit the "serious issue of cyber-security."
"Cyber-security is an industry-wide problem that will not be solved by malicious finger pointing and political attacks," Jim Prendergast, executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, said in a statement.
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