Microsoft has unveiled the security features built into its Windows XP and Office XP products. However, many of the 'new' features are present in existing versions of the company's operating system and Office products, but are not activated by default as they are in the XP range.
The Redmond giant has announced that users of Outlook 6 would be prevented from downloading attachments, while Internet Explorer 6 may eventually block access to web pages without a clearly defined security policy.
But at the core of the Windows XP operating system itself is the Software Restriction Policies engine, which automatically scans any code from an email or website that attempts to run on the machine.
Administrators can tweak the settings on the engine so that it only allows code signed by trusted sources to run.
An in-built Hotfix checking tool will automatically scan the host machine to make sure it has all the up-to-date patches, and to automatically download and install new patches or updates.
These features are already available on current Windows systems - users just need a little know-how in order to operate them. Hidden within the setting menus of Outlook and Internet Explorer are options to disable cookies, scripts, ActiveX and Java, or disable the automatic preview of email attachments.
The Hotfix tool is very similar to the existing Windows Update tool, so it seems that Microsoft is trying to improve security by making users more aware of the concept rather than building new security functions into the operating system.
In addition, Microsoft has revealed that XP on the desktop will also feature a personal firewall, dubbed the Internet Connection Firewall, in a bid to prevent the expected hacking attacks that will come with the availability of always-on broadband internet connections such as ADSL.
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