Improved features in Windows 2000 may increase usability but they could also compromise security, anti-virus experts warned today.
Darren Kessner, researcher at anti-virus company Symantec, said that while Windows 2000 delivers a number of features designed to increase user productivity, ease administration overhead and strengthen network security, some of these enhancements provide new avenues of virus infection.
"Windows 2000 offers many new features that make it easier for administrators to manage and secure their network. However, it is far from a safe operating system," warned Kessner.
One example Kessner cited is Intellimirror, a set of new features in Windows 2000 that allow user specific information to follow users as they move from one computer to another.
He gave an example: In Windows 2000, the 'My Documents' folder is part of a user's profile. In order to save time and decrease traffic, My Documents can be redirected to a network folder. This prevents Windows from copying the entire contents of My Documents to the local computer when a user logs on. Users have access to their personal My Documents folder whenever they log on to the network.
However, a user who opens an infected document in the 'My Documents' folder can inadvertently infect documents on the local machine. Other users that subsequently log onto the network from that machine and then access documents in their My Documents folders run the risk of infecting these documents also.
"It is important that network administrators understand this avenue of virus propagation, so that they can gauge the extent of particular virus infection," said Kessner.
Active Directory - the name of the directory service provided with Windows 2000 - is another example of a risk, he said. Active Directory serves as the primary tool for network administrators to manage user and computer accounts.
Kessner warned that while Active Directory is designed to make basic information about a network more accessible, it also makes it easier for viruses and worms that use email to propagate, to get easy access to information about email and shared documents.
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