Another Worm Turns

I rejoiced last week when I read a number of news pieces regarding the seeming defeat of UCITA. Frankly I intended to turn in a very passionate and long-winded oratory on why this is a good thing.

Maybe Iíll do that next week.

This week Iím afraid other passions have gotten the best of me. Over the course of the last month Iíve spent more and more quality time with a peecee running winblowsXP. Iím here to tell you, its everything we Mac zealots believe it to be, and more. To be fair, my ëstandardí is this fine Apple PowerBook G4 and what Iím using at work is a some flavor of HP Vectra housing a pIII/666 processor. At first one might think Iím being unduly harsh in rendering judgments about XP when pushing it around with such wimpy hardware. Iím constrained to point out that my wife has an iBook g3/600 which she finds to be more than serviceable. Indeed, osX on her iBook is more than usable, and far more functional, than that HP parody of a workstation.

Can you believe that I received more security updates in one week on a new winXP image than I have from Apple for the entire year? That includes the likes of iTunes, Safari, Airport, and everything else Apple has upgraded so far in the rapidly waning year of 2003. That my friends is what I call despicable. Or, at least I would, if I didnít work in a call center handling the technological needs of 50k+ employees at a major telecommunications company. Would you care to guess how I spent my day? Thatís right, we fielded call after call after call from a bunch of poor schmucks who only wanted to do their work. Unfortunately some misbegotten poster child for abortion released yet another virus into the wild and those 50k+ schmucks spent today complaining that their peeceeís were restarting every five minutes or so. Welcome to the land of W32.blast.

Even worse, I read that the state of Maine ended up shutting down all of their DMV offices, since they couldnít get anything done today anyway. A major University in Florida also suffered the wrath of the aforementioned but unnamed hacker in spite of the fact that they had worked diligently to prevent any incursions that might exploit this particular flaw in Mr. Gatesí brainchild.

So, someone ësplain this to me. For WEEKS the Feds, M$, and the Boy Scouts have been warning everyone that this little bug was bound to be exploited sooner or later. All the antivirus vendors upgraded their software and M$ released yet another patch. All of the oh-so-diligent system administrators out there secured their systems against any attempt to take advantage of this particular flaw. Still the net was hammered by yet another ghastly example of poorly applied programming.


It seems to me that with all the attention garnered by this problem that there shouldnít have been a single system waiting to be compromised, at least, none that wasnít located in someoneís living room.

After my experience with that kludgy operating system over the past month I was convinced that to willingly use, much less deploy, any iteration of windows, is to announce oneís stupidity to the world. Alas, its much worse than even I envisioned. Regardless of what operating system is your platform of choice, its just plain STUPID for so high of a majority of users to be reliant on the same environment. Whether its the MacOS, linux, UNIX, Solaris, Amiga, or winblows is irrelevant. Not only is competition a very good thing, its necessary to the health and vitality of the internet and our economy. When everyone is running on the same software, it presents a stunningly large and common target. Its like everyone everywhere using the same locks on their front door. It may be a perfectly good lock but if a thief needs only one lock pick, he can do a great deal of damage.

When are the powers that be going to realize that ìwhat everyone else usesî isnít the best solution after all? Donít answer that. Just rest uneasily in the knowledge that until they do, todayís assault on the peeceeís of the world wonít be last. Those of us using Macs or linux may lament that we donít have more company, but we can take full advantage of our alleged security through obscurity. Iíll take anonymity any day, over being yet another victim in the war between the hackers and the slackers in Redmond.