Microsoft has released the latest service pack for Windows XP. Service Pack 3 includes all the updates and hot-fixes released since Service Pack 2 and also a number of new security features. most notably;
“Black Hole” Router Detection, whereby Windows XP will now by default detect routers that silently discarding packets.
Network Access Protection (NAP) which is currently in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and is now also available for Windows XP. NAP can enable you to enforce compliance on end user computers before they join the network ensuring that items such as anti-virus signatures and patches are up to date.
It will be interesting to see how organisations manage to deploy Service Pack 3 and in particular how many will roll out NAP to better secure their environment. Given that many organisations are still running Windows XP and that Service Pack 3 will no doubt extend the life of XP in those environments, this may be the jolt in the arm that end point policy enforcement solutions need.
I also wait to see how third party vendors of NAC solutions react to this development and whether they will decide to compete head on or complement their own solutions with NAP.