Home Operating Systems Windows XP Pro Microsoft disables autorun in Windows XP to fight Malware
Microsoft disables autorun in Windows XP to fight Malware PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 04:42

Yesterday (2/9/2011) Microsoft released what I consider to be a major change in functionality to Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003.


When Windows XP came out (which nowadays feels like the beginning of time), AutoPlay, an extension of the autorun feature introduced in Windows 95, has prompted and asked what you wish to do with a device upon connection, whether the device was a USB thumb drive, an external hard drive, a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM disc, or a multimedia card or card reader.


Microsoft's update, KB971029, disables this functionality for all devices aside from CD and DVD drives (one would assume blu-ray drives are excluded from it as well.) A handful of USB drives (Cruzer units come to mind) present themselves as CD drives, these also are excluded due to the way they are designed to be viewed by the operating system.


According to MS, this update will affect the "Copy Network Settings" wizard that can be used to setup a new computer on a wireless network using settings copied from another computer on that network. When the USB drive is plugged into the new computer for the second portion of the process, you must browse to the thumb drive in my computer and find the setup executable to continue the "Copy Network Settings" setup.


I have seen within my work several instances of OS crippling malware being passed from a thumb drive that had been outside the computer network to an in-house workstation or laptop. At least one of these required reinstalling Windows Vista on a laptop in order to get it to function reliably again.


This is a smart security update from MS. It should be delivered to your computer via Windows Update, if you do not have it disabled. It is also available from Microsoft's update information page here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971029


A good blog entry on ZDNet concerning the update can be found here: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/microsoft-disables-autorun-on-windows-xpvista-to-prevent-malware-infections/8123?tag=mantle_skin;content