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Help and Support Center

If you have administrative privileges on your computer, you can update the Help and Support Center (HSC) contents. However, the contents are not updated automatically. Users are given the option to download and then install the updates. In addition, the content package that's downloaded must contain a digitally signed certificate.

Before you start to feel pretty good about HSC, let me give you some more information. Last year a security hole was discovered in the pluggable protocol hcp:// that HSC registers. The hcp:// protocol can be used to start the HSC from a Web browser. For example, type hcp://system/sysinfo/msinfo.htm in your browser. You'll notice that it starts the HSC and displays the system information. A research scientist discovered that by using the hcp:// protocol, it's possible to launch an attack that can arbitrarily delete files on your Windows XP computer. Microsoft provided a patch in Windows XP SP1 to fix this bug.

Microsoft doesn't offer any Group Policy settings or registry hacks that will allow you to control the behavior of HSC updates.

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