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McFedries (80) explains that Windows 7 is an operating system that was released by Microsoft to manufacturing on July 22, 2009 whose predecessor was Windows vista. Comparatively Windows 7 was intended to be more focused, incremental upgrade or rather an improvement of Windows vista. It was to achieve full compatibility with hardware and applications which Windows vista is already compatible with. It was produced just like any other operating system, for use on personal computers, laptops, notebooks, tablet PCs among other definitions of computers. It follows that no single operating system can be perfect thus Windows 7 as an operating system has security concerns. In this paper there are two aspects of security that have been discussed. How secure is and how to secure Windows 7
An elaborate description of the Pros and Cons of Windows 7 can be used to uncover how secure this operating system is. There are a number of things that are a plus in terms of Windows 7 security. For instance the Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Prevention have been improved. ASLR has been made in such a way that it is more difficult for rogue attackers to know where core functions are in the memory while DEP functions to prevent buffer overflow attacks as a result of working on storage areas that are intended to hold data. In addition DEP protects internet explorer and other services that were not protected initially by Windows vista (Bott). Secondly with Windows 7 there is the capability of data encryption on USB thumb drives this was due to the expansion of the BitLocker to include removable drives. It should however be noted that the BitLocker was meant to encrypt the partition on which windows was installed but the advent of Service Pack 1 saw expansion to include additional drives. Another strength is where Internet Explorer 8 is not specific to windows 7 such that the operating system is free to download and use the new browser. The IE8 includes a new protection called the SmartScreen. It resembles protection in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It functions to block bad sites and also protects users. Another simple feature is the bold address bar which helps to make the true domain to stand out such that the user will easily be alerted on malicious URL.
However, as much as Windows 7 might boast of various improvements and clear superiority over windows vista, there are a number of weaknesses that are associated with this particular operating system. To start with the Windows Firewall does not provide mechanism for blocking traffic outbound from a Windows PC. Since there is a correlation between power and resource intensity of a fire wall there needs to be a balance between the two, a level which Windows 7 has not yet achieved. A second issue is the hiding of file extensions. As much as it makes the operating system user friendly, it becomes easy for email Trojans to employ the use of double extensions to trick users. Thirdly, the incorporation of the XP Mode Virtualization results into an operative concern where as the total virtual memory runs on the PC which requires one to run a full security suite within that particular virtual memory and at the same time manage it appropriately. In general this is a type of complexity for the purposes of securing a desktop that runs on Windows Operating system.
It has also been discovered that malware has the capability of turning off UAC also that malware can auto-elevate without notifying the user. The boot process is also not very safe as in the hack cannot be fixed in that during the booting up process it loads itself into the system memory whereby virus scanners will struggle to detect because there is no changing of files in the hard disk. This gives the rogue programmers or malicious people good time to exploit the system and leave it in bad shape. This has so far been considered a design problem by researchers. Another instance is the latest version of VBootkit which can permit remote access and can even go to the limits of removing user’s password thus giving the attack enough privileges to exploit the system to his/her desires. This is very dangerous.
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