Reports which suggest that Microsoft's latest consumer operating system, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), has been released with a bug are wide off the mark, according to a security expert.
Fears that the system is vulnerable cast a shadow over its launch last week. However, the problem actually lies with Microsoft's WebTV application, which has gained only minimal distribution in the UK and so is unlikely to affect UK users.
"The problem is not inherent to the Windows Me operating system and will not affect machines on a corporate network operating behind a properly configured firewall," Paul Rogers, network security analyst at MIS Corporate Defence Solutions, told vnunet.com.
"Home users worried about the problem should configure their low-end firewall or packet-filtering software to prevent access to UDP ports from the internet," he added.
UDP is an internet protocol used instead of TCP where time constraints exist and where totally reliable data transfer is not required, for example, during video streaming.
At issue is an inherent weakness in WebTV which allows a remote user to crash a user's computer. Computers running WebTV on Windows 98 and Windows Me have been forced to reboot.
"An attacker sending UDP packets to specified ports will cause denial of service effects to the program or system," said Rogers. "One port alone is known to cause automatic reboots."
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