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11/16/2005
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Rootkits DOA In 64-bit Software, Says Microsoft

Microsoft's move to 64-bit operating systems for its servers should put a stop to rootkits, at least the current crop like the one that's plagued buyers of some Sony music CDs, company executives claim.

Microsoft's move to 64-bit operating systems for its servers should put a stop to rootkits, at least the current crop like the one that's plagued buyers of some Sony music CDs, company executives claim.

In a question and answer Tuesday at the Microsoft IT Forum now underway in Barcelona, Spain, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows server group, said that the company's 64-bit software addresses the security problem brought on by cloaking software.

"We put something called patch guard into the kernel in 64 bit so that it is not actually possible to install a patch in a running kernel, which is possible in 32 bit if you have administrative privilege," said Muglia.

"In 64 bit, we stopped that."

Although it's not possible to retrofit 32-bit Windows with such a feature -- "It is incredibly difficult to add that to 32 bit because there are a number of applications that take advantage of it in a valid way," added Muglia -- Microsoft's planned migration to 64-bit for all its server products gave it the opportunity to plug the security hole.

"When you do a platform transition like this, you can make those sorts of shifts, and kernel mode code has to be updated for 64 bit, anyway."

Last week, Microsoft promised that it would update several of its security products and services, including Windows AntiSpyware, to detect and delete the rootkit that's become the focus of a firestorm over Sony's copy protection scheme.

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