Security Drives Upgraded Windows Server

Microsoft has released its first service pack for
Windows Server 2003 with several improvements in security. The upgrade is crucial, because the company is constantly under fire for the safety of its software.

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) features stronger default settings
and reduced privileges to better keep perpetrators from hijacking users’
machines, the company said in a statement.

Microsoft’s latest software upgrade also includes a security configuration wizard to help users “reduce the attack surface” by blocking unused services and ports.

The improved Windows firewall, which appeared in Windows XP Service Pack 2, sets group policies for each client and server computer on a customer’s network, and it decides who has access to what information.

New security updates in the software also block all inbound connections to
the server after installation until Windows Update has delivered the latest
security updates to the new computer.

To tighten security, SP1 includes Internet Information Services
(IIS) 6.0 Metabase Auditing, which allows administrators to identify
potential malicious users should the system become corrupted. The auditing
tool also boasts stronger defaults and privilege reduction on services, as
well as quarantine control for networks.

“With Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, our development team took the time
to treat the root cause of many security issues, not just the symptoms. This
service pack is very significant and should help address certain classes of
exploits,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows Server
Division at Microsoft.

Microsoft has weathered harsh criticism for the lack of security in its
software, and is bent on its mission to provide “trustworthy computing” in all phases.

SP1 comes at a time when fears over computer security are rampant, although
there have been fewer major viruses or worms of late to knock down Windows

The security threat most in vogue these days seems to be database
breaches by hackers trolling for customers’ personal data, including the
attacks on ChoicePoint and a handful of universities

Microsoft meanwhile tested a number of Windows-based devices for
compatibility with SP1, as well as firewall, database, anti-virus, business
intelligence and Web development applications to make sure the changes work.

Customers can download SP1 free for the next 60 days.

In related news, Microsoft released Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and
Windows XP Professional x64 Edition to manufacturing, with availability
sometime in April.

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