- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Putting words into my mouth, eh?

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on October 26, 1999 at 12:14:29:

In Reply to: Systems. posted by Dr. Cruel on October 26, 1999 at 10:48:27:

: Fa: WIN 9x sucks! GNU is best!
: Fr: But it works well for me. I don't know GNU from an old shoe.
: Fa: Red Hat, you idiot! Switch now, or be damned!

That's not what I said, Doc.

What I said was that a) MS Windows is a commercial monopoly and b) MS Windows blows large goats through a small straw. I gave cited examples of exactly why MS Windows sucked and informed him of the risks.

I never once *told* him to swap; it's not my place to. I merely informed him of MS Windows' vast security holes and inherent unsuitability for connecting to the 'net. If he wants to continue paying cash for an Edsel, that's his prerogative. Myself, I'll use the free and secure alternative.

Fact is, any data you store on a Windows PC can be lifted out by anyone who wants to; the Government or anyone who feels like it. If you use it to connect to the 'net, people can do it from across the world (see the example below about WinNuke.)

A lot of people nowadays use their PCs for financial accounts and electronic transactions; Frenchy may not be among them yet, but he very likely will at some point. If he uses a Windows PC and connects to the 'net, people will be able to empty his bank account from anywhere in the world.

Would you allow any poor sap to walk through Harlem with their wallet hanging out without warning them?

It's not going to hurt me if Frenchy gets his bank account emptied; but it's a little unfair on him if he wasn't warned that it could happen. Ignorance isn't going to protect you here.

I merely pointed out to him that Linux was as easy to use as Windows and didn't carry the security risk Windows does; I also pointed out the price differential. I recommended that he switch; but I didn't once use any compulsion.

Frenchy doesn't know jack about computers, as he will freely admit. I do. Are you saying that his opinion is as informed as mine? Of course not (at least, I hope not). As such, my advice is akin to that of a doctor recommending he cut down on smoking for the sake of his health.

Let's have a look at a few more MS holes, though, since you mentioned it.

Remember Melissa, the virus that would mail itself to other people using MS Outlook?

Well, in September, a secure lab in Rice University created a virus that could be placed in an attachment and would activate without the mail even being read, thanks to a flaw in Microsoft's version of Java (Sun's version is immune); you could remove files from a remote hard drive merely by sending someone an infected file as an attachment - i.e. without the mail even being read. And because the core of Windows isn't shielded, these files could be necessary for the operation of Windows.

If you combined that with Melissa, you would have a PC killer virus; a virus that would send itself automatically to any PC in your Outlook address book and would stop Windows working on any box it touched; it could infect the entire PC world in under 3 hours and would probably kill the economic world as we know it (thanks to Windows users in computerized stock exchanges).

It's not really surprising that the article in Computing was labelled "'Disastrous security flaw' in Windows". Given the widespread use of Windows PCs in essential systems worldwide, Microsoft's inability to build a secure system could well result in the collapse of Western civilisation as we know it.

And that's not an exaggeration. When a bored teenager could wipe out civilised life as you know it, it's probably time to look to your computer security.

A friend of mine is a sysadmin at Rice University. I could possibly get hold of the Microsoft Java virus given a bit of sweet talk. At which point, I could kill the PC of any MS Windows user I liked; yours, Frenchy's, any Windows user's. Permanently.

(I wouldn't ever dream of such a thing, of course; it's a deeply unethical thing to do and not something I'd ever consider resorting to even as a last resort; there are some things you just *do not do* with the power you have. But by continuing to use an OS as flimsy as Windows to connect to the 'net, you are leaving yourself wide open to someone with less scruples than I.)

Mind you, if some lowlife did create the virus I proposed above, it would mean the instantaneous end of both Windows and Microsoft. And it would probably take about 2 days to write.

Of course, since Linux's core is shielded from the users, the same thing couldn't be done to Linux. Linux is immune to macro viruses.

Second example; let's look at the Ping of Death; a.k.a. WinNuke (see information here. WinNuke was something that an admin friend of mine on IRC used to use to get rid of annyoing Windows lamers on channel; you simply send them a ping in a format their PC cannot cope with and it crashes. Hard. We're talking reboot-the-box time.

It took Microsoft two years to fix that; and most Windows '95 users still haven't implemented a fix yet - because they just don't know about it; Windows is the operating system for the ignorant to use.

(You can test it here; go here, click on the test button, and if your PC crashes, you're vulnerable to anyone who doesn't like your tone...)

Are you still going to pretend that I shouldn't warn Frenchy that he's risking a very nasty shock by running an insecure operating system?

: Vote with your bucks, French. Always vote with the bucks.

- Until they get stolen from you because you left your wallet open for all to see...


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