Microsoft plans to turn off half the firewall in Windows Vista when the new operating system ships later this year because it doesn't think most users need all the firewall's functionality or can handle its management.
Although Vista's firewall will ship with both in- and outbound filtering capabilities, the latter will be disabled by default. Corporate users, however, can turn on outbound if they wish.
“Inbound filtering is on by default and outbound filtering for applications is configurable by enterprise administrators through Group Policy,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.
Microsoft has been promoting Vista's firewall as better than XP's because it's able to stop both incoming attacks and filter outbound traffic.
But with it enabled only for incoming data, the end result is a defence identical to Windows XP SP2, which has an incoming-only firewall that's automatically enabled.
Selective outbound blocking has been offered by other firewall providers, including Symantec and ZoneLabs, for years.
The tactic is used to stop unauthorised programs from accessing the Internet, and touted as a way to prevent spyware from transmitting stolen data to criminals, even if the spyware gets past other protection and burrows its way onto a hard drive.
Still, Peter Pawlak, an analyst with US-based Directions on Microsoft, believes Microsoft's taken a “reasonable position” to disable the outbound capabilities of the Vista firewall.
“It's bad enough with anti-virus and anti-spyware scanners, which ask you to make decisions based on information that you don't have any idea what it's talking about,” said Pawlak.
“But I just can't imagine individuals dealing with outbound protocols and ports on their own. The idea of an outbound firewall is pretty darn technically tricky for the average user.”
Vista to handcuff firewall
By Gregg Keizer on Apr 28, 2006 10:36AM