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Bug of the moment 2008-03-16

Some time ago, I posted a curious screenshot from work where a Notepad file that I had just created on a Windows share was being treated as a threatening document from the Internet:

Aside from the private IP address, since when have Notepad files had the potential to be malicious? Why would I create one personally with the intention to sabotage myself?

Mistaking parts of your LAN for the public Internet seems to be a recurring theme in Windows XP, though. Here, for example, every machine except localhost (Magictile) is shown as being part of the Internet, even when they’re all a few feet away connected by a switch/router:

To clarify this, here is Magictile’s hosts file, with all the relevant entries for local machines:

And Magictile’s adapter configuration:

The following screenshot though is from my laptop. I wanted to fetch some files from a Zip archive from my desktop computer (all of 8 inches away), opening which triggered a bizarre warning:

What is an “unspecified potential security risk”? Is this computer-speak for “ya know, I’m feelin’ real uneasy right now”? (cf. NSNervousKernelNotification) Surely someone must have specified some reason for why opening a Zip file should be dangerous? Was Internet Explorer not in on this meeting?

“Internet Explorer?” There isn’t even a Web server on Spire, so why Windows Explorer has suddenly decided to don its Internet Explorer hat, I have no idea.

I don’t know whether the laptop thinks that my desktop computer is on the local network or the Internet, because when I view the workgroup in Tiles mode, it doesn’t show the various groupings that Magictile does. You can display icons in groups, but all that gives me is P and S, with Firetrack in one and Spire in the other. Same version of Windows, completely different results.

(Yes, this has definitely turned out to be my favourite desktop colour scheme!)


silvestrij pointed me in the right direction with this one: Internet Options (or Internet Properties, depending where you take the name from). Turns out that Windows XP automatically works out what your intranet comprises, and anything else is considered the Internet. In my case, it’s failing to figure out the intranet and moving all computers into the Internet Zone. Disable automatic intranet determination in /Internet (Options|Preferences)/, and the problem goes away.

In fact, there is an embarrassingly obvious give-away to what Windows was doing:

The status bar of Windows Explorer shows that it’s operating in the Internet zone instead of Local Intranet zone.

I guess that, however, I’ve been rendered blind to this status bar panel from overexposure.

Posted 16th March 2008 – Comments and questions?