That’s One Small Step for Windows…

And a giant step for users! While working on a blog soon to follow this I discovered a behavior in Windows 7 that Microsoft has changed to make a small, but meaningful improvement in security. For decades the bane of IT professionals has been users who double click on anything they can. This has lead to many infections as users click on files they should not click on.

In Windows 7 Microsoft has changed the way that Visual Basic Script files are handled by default. If you double-click on a VBS file in Windows 7, instead of running the script, Windows will open the file in Notepad. This little change made my job a little harder for an upcoming blog post, but it is a really good security approach. If Microsoft had used this method back with Windows 95 and on, we would never have seen the proliferation of VBS worms. Back then Outlook did not block dangerous attachments, but the VBS files wouldn’t have been very dangerous if they only opened in Notepad when you clicked on them.

Even though Outlook blocks VBS files, it is still pretty easy to send one in a zip file and trick someone into opening it. With Windows 7 if this happens the VBS won’t run. I remember years ago editing the registry to make this the default behavior. Microsoft should probably issue a patch for the rest of its supported operating systems to make the behavior the same as in Windows 7.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education

Author , ESET

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