ERRONEOUS SECURITY WARNINGS IN VISTA

Starting on July 14, some Vista computers began displaying erroneous warning messages from the Windows Security Center. If you run Windows Live OneCare on a Vista machine, you may see a shield with an X in the lower right corner. Opening the Windows Security Center will display two warnings: “Windows Firewall is turned off,” and “Windows Live OneCare is on but is reporting its status to Windows Security Center in a format that is no longer supported.”

vistasecuritywarning

As long as OneCare is green, you are fully protected. You can ignore the warning shield.

Microsoft has confirmed that this is an issue in Vista’s security center that does not affect your security protection. It is not a OneCare problem; there are also reports of the same problem with other security programs. Here’s one discussion with people describing the problem and reporting back from Microsoft about the cause. It may be fixed by an automatic update to OneCare shortly but no one has promised that yet. (Technical detail: apparently there’s a change in the way security programs report their status to Windows Security Center that was not scheduled to take effect until September 2009. Something caused it to come to life two months early.)

Although it’s possible to turn off those warnings in the Windows Security Center (click on “Show me my available options”), the problem is apparently permanently fixed when Vista Service Pack 2 is installed. It’s a good excuse to install Service Pack 2 if you haven’t gotten to it yet. Here’s my article about Service Pack 2.

  • To check what service pack is installed, click on Start, right-click on Computer and click on Properties.
  • If you do not have Vista Service Pack 2 yet, open Windows Update and click on View Available Updates. Service Pack 2 will not show up until some prerequisites are installed. If you see any .NET Framework updates, install those and Service Pack 2 will likely show up the next time.
  • Allow 30-60 minutes for Service Pack 2 to be installed.

Again: If you are running antivirus software that is up to date, the warnings in the Windows Security Center are incorrect. You can ignore them.