Early in November, Microsoft began a free web-based Virus Scanner, allowing members of the general public to come to their website, download a tool, and then proceed to tie up your box and scan it for all of the creepies that have infested your computer while on the internet. What they haven't readily disclosed, however, is that the scanner reports materials on your computer back to Microsoft HQ. BOOO!
Windows Live Safety Center works with Windows XP Home, XP Professional, 2000 Professional, Server 2003, or Windows 2000 Server. You need to also run it with IE 6.0 or better, as the tools use Active X. Thus, the site will not work with Windows 9x, ME, or if you refuse to use IE on the internet.
Even more interesting is that the "Windows Live Safety Center" is not hosted on microsoft.com... check out the homepage:
Who is live.com? Good question. whois tells me that it is a company in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (Canada). The domain is listed on msft.net Who are they? Microsoft Ok. So maybe they are a subsidary. Or about to be bought up. Who knows. The point is... the software source advertised by Microsoft is not hosted in house.
Microsoft, in it's untrustable stealthy fashion, does not make a direct link to any information discussing what the program technically does, and what information gets sent back to HQ, and tries to justify why the material is collected and used.
While I can see the reason Microsoft would push such a tool, I cannot help to feel that this is yet another case of big-brother trying to generate data on who is using the service, and what is affecting them. I would rather see the company harden the OS as a whole, and make it so that the computers do not need to continually operate in Administrator mode. There are ways to make Windows secure; medication in the form of Live Safety Scanner is not the answer. Fixing the core problem, in other words, prevention, remains the elusive superior answer.
Looks like it is time to update the DNS servers to map safety.live.com to a different website, so that IT can maintain central administration of antivirus and antispyware activites, and so that we can protect our data, again, from Microsoft.