Microsoft has conceded that the pseudo-random number generator used by Windows XP suffers the same security shortcomings as Windows 2000.
Israeli researchers researchers recently discovered it was possible to predict the output of random-number generator built into Windows 2000, after first determining the internal state of the generator. Random numbers are a critical sub-component of cryptography functions, such as the generation of keys used for SSL exchanges.
Win XP - but not Windows Vista - are subject to the same problem, Microsoft admits. However the software giant has no plans to release a fix until Windows XP Service Pack 3 in the first half of 2008.
Microsoft said that to pull off the attack an attacker would need to have gained ownership of a machine, after which worries about random number would be the least of a user's worries. "Because administrator rights are required for the attack to be successful, and by design, administrators can access all files and resources on a system, this is not inappropriate disclosure of information," a company spokesperson told Computerworld. "If an attacker has already compromised a victim machine, a theoretical attack could occur on Windows XP." ®