The technology can be used to create networks between computers and could result in faster online gaming.
That's a nice feature to have because peer to peer networks relief the burden from centralised servers and generally makes for faster networks .The network is no longer build hierarchically with each client sending data to a server and the server telling the clients what to do next. Instead the clients talk directly to each other. Think of it as the difference between a classic monarchy and democracy, if not anarchy – a pyramid vs. a spider web model.
But users of the recently release Windows Vista Beta 1 are automatically turned into guinea pigs for the new service, the SANS Internet Storm Center found out. The feature by default is turned on to see how the technology behaves in a mass deployment.
That not only triggers alerts from several anomaly based intrusion detection systems, such as ZoneAlarm, it also violates one of the base rules of both the security industry and Microsoft: you don't open up a door (network port) in a computer unless you want someone to come in.
"It is just a beta," you argue? Then some of those beta testers would have liked to know that the software had this feature, argued Senior security expert George Bakos from the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. He made the initial report on SANS' website.
"This could be used to identify an individual user and IP address. It may aid an attacker in gathering information about an individual. And if you are a privacy advocate and you don't want information about your system to be available to others, you may frown upon this," Bakos told vnunet.com.
tags: windows vista
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