Vista’s image-based install is great for hackers

Users hoping for pirated copies of Vole’s latest operating system Vista might find themselves downloading some heavy duty malware.In an interview with APC Magazine, a Volish technology specialist John Pritchard said that the installation process and the ease with which administrators can pre-install software into a Vista install DVD could be to blame.Pritchard said that pirated copies of Vista could easily come with malware preinstalled.

Vista’s installation process does not use an ‘installer’ and the install DVD is actually a preinstalled copy of Windows that simply gets decompressed onto a PC. Pritchard said that the DVDs installs a Windows Imaging (.WIM) file, which is basically the operating system folders wrapped up in an image file.

While users might think they are doing an install, what they are actually doing is grabbing the install.wim and executing that as an upgrade or clean install. Pritchard admitted that this meant that there was a bigger risk for malware to be injected into pirated Vista install DVDs.

The only way around this is to not have pirated DVDs and to know where you got your disk from, he said.

The pirates could easily have installed malware into the install files of Windows XP, but they didn’t.

APC Magazine

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