On new OS installs, the Windows Firewall will be enabled with no exceptions allowed until after patching is completed. This feature is already built in to Windows Server 2003 SP1, and it prevents roving malware from exploiting Windows prior to patches being installed.
There will be an entirely new console, called the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, for configuring and better integrating both IPSec and the firewall. It looks to be much easier to use, requiring much less effort to configure.
Vista will not rely on MD5 or SHA-1 hashing. Since both hash algorithms have been found to have cryptographically easy collisions, Microsoft will be using stronger hashes, including SHA-256.
On the patch front, Vista supports patch-in-place features: You can patch and then reboot the box with all current applications open, and Vista will restore the current application sessions upon reboot. Of course, it would be nicer if patches didn’t require a reboot in the first place …
A new Network Center application will allow all things networking to be viewed, configured, and managed in a central location. There's also an improved NAP (Network Access Protection) client. NAP is a network access control (also known as network quarantining) client. When the server side is enabled on Windows Server 2003, NAP can prevent unauthorized and ill-configured clients from connecting to a production network. Microsoft’s current implementation of NAP is not user-friendly or overly useful in most environments.
Vista will also include the much improved Internet Explorer 7, which includes more than a dozen new security enhancements. I’ll cover them in a separate, future column. And, of course, there will be hundreds of new GPO (group policy objects) settings regarding security, but they are too numerous to cover here. I’ll take a look at these new technologies as details emerge during the year.