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Winternals Positions Recovery Manager as a Tool for Patching Dilemma

The recent rash of severely critical patches from Microsoft has left many IT administrators with a tough choice. Leave enterprise systems vulnerable to a dangerous Internet-based attack or rush the patch onto critical production systems without adequate testing.

Windows system infrastructure tools vendor Winternals has found a way to leverage its strengths in system recovery to help with the patch-or-don't patch problem. Winternals is positioning its Winternals Recovery Manager as a safety net.

Two recent examples of patches that leave users with a dilemma are MS03-026, which patched a critical vulnerability in Windows DCOM RPC, and MS03-039, which is supposed to fix even more security holes that arise from the same underlying issues.

Microsoft has taken pains to impress upon the IT community that these vulnerabilities are worse than typical "critical" Microsoft patches, and some analysts and security experts have recommended that IT administrators apply the fixes in some cases without going through the full process of quality assurance for the patches because of the flaws' potential to allow complete system compromise.

Yet users have reported the kinds of problems with these patches that have plagued previous Microsoft security hotfixes and that have required organizations to have a patch testing process in the first place.

"The proliferation of malicious-code attacks has necessitated trade-offs between testing and being exposed, leading to emergency patching as a solution for many enterprise administrators," Edwin Brasch, Winternals president and CEO, said in a statement.

Brasch contends that administrators should consider system recovery tools like Winternals Recovery Manager as a fail-safe for the issue.

According to Winternals, there are several ways Winternals Recovery Manager could help administrators cope with malicious code attacks. Administrators can roll back the changes made by a worm, made by anti-virus software that destabilizes systems or made by a critical update that causes undesired behavior. The product also provides the ability to boot systems into an offline environment where analysis and repair can be performed without risk of infecting other systems.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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