Microsoft Shores Up Windows Server Against Attacks

New defenses in Windows Server 2003's Service Pack 1 include a roles-based configuration wizard and Internet blocking until new patches have been downloaded.



Microsoft on Wednesday released the first bug-fixing "service pack" software for Windows Server 2003 and said the updates should make the operating system less vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 aims to fix security problems in the operating system and provide tools that make it simpler for IT departments to securely set up servers running Windows. Microsoft released a similar set of repairs for desktop Windows, called Windows XP Service Pack 2, last August.

The new Windows server service pack, available on CD-ROM, as a download from Microsoft's Web site, or through Windows' automatic update feature, was designed to make systems less prone to attack while they're being set up on networks, says Jeff Price, a senior director of product management at Microsoft.

Chief among the updates are the ability for Windows servers equipped with Service Pack 1 to turn on their firewalls as soon as they're deployed, and to block inbound Internet traffic until Windows downloads Microsoft's latest security patches.

The service pack also includes a "security configuration wizard" that can detect a server's role--whether it's a file server, Web server, or database host, for example--then disable the software and ports not associated with that role. IT workers can copy those changes to groups of machines. Price says Service Pack 1 also makes DCOM, Microsoft's technology for distributed objects, less prone to attack.

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