Oh the irony. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is, quite rightly, being pushed hard on the merits of the numerous security improvements over the original release. However, despite the fact that Vista SP1 will not be made available to end users until March, because it has just been released to manufacturing I guess it should come as no surprise that it has also already hit the pirate download sites. Indeed, BitTorrent tracker sites report hundreds of seeders and hundreds more lechers within 24 hours of that RTM release. It would appear that what is circulating here, as a 2.9GB file, is a full Vista install with SP1 included. So at least honest users who wait for the SP1 upgrade pack will not have to jump through the same install hoops as the pirates who will see all the data on their primary hard drive erased.

But what of those security improvements, will they be worth waiting for? You betcha. Vista SP1 brings the ability, at last, for security software vendors to interact in a more purposeful and secure way with the Windows Security Centre for a start. BitLocker drive encryption is beefed up with additional multifactor authentication combining a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) key with a pin-protected startup key stored on a USB device. Talking of TPM, a redesigned random number generator strengthens the cryptography platform using AES based pseudo-generation from NIST special publication 800-90. Remote Desktop Protocol files can be signed to improve security, and third-party security applications will be able to work with kernel patch protection on Vista x64 courtesy of new APIs.

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...