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01.26.10

Australia May Ban Infected Windows PCs; Nearly Half of Europe No Longer Uses Internet Explorer

Posted in Australia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Windows at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The security trouble caused by Microsoft’s software leads to more serious action even at national levels

FOUR months ago it was reported that Australian ISPs may kick Windows PCs which are zombies out of the Internet. That would be a huge number of PCs. The Australian has this new report on the same subject. [via]

COMPUTERS infected with viruses could be “expelled” from the internet under a new industry code to control Australia’s plague of contaminated PCs.

The federal government has given the internet industry an operate-or-legislate ultimatum to identify “zombie” computers involved in cyber-crime.

The Internet Industry Association – whose members include major internet service providers Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, AAPT, Virgin and Hutchison 3G, as well as industry giants Facebook, Google and Microsoft – is preparing a voluntary industry code to come into force this year.

The move follows industry intelligence that Australia now hosts the world’s third-highest number of “zombie” computers infected with malicious software that can attack other PCs, send spam, store child pornography or steal the user’s identity.

“Australian ISPs are making plans to disconnect one third to half of all their Windows users,” is how one of our readers put it. “Pathetic, though, how the editorial staff of the newspaper spin the problem by falsely implying that it is a ‘computer’ problem and not a Microsoft problem.”

IDG has this new article about botnets and it also ‘forgets’ to mention Windows. Why is that?

I caught up recently with Roland Dobbins, a solutions architect with the Asia Pacific division of Arbor Networks, a company that specializes in helping customers defend against botnet attacks. Dobbins said the Google incident a perfect example of how the botnet has enabled what he calls the democratization of espionage.

They do not mention the crucial fact that these botnets run Windows and as the recent Internet Explorer fiasco [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] ought to have taught, Microsoft is to blame for it. It ignored critical flaws for many months, as usual (until attacks on users became too much of a problem).

Internet Explorer is already vulnerable again and Christopher Smart refutes Microsoft’s lies about other Web browsers being equally vulnerable.

With all this Internet Explorer insecurity issues coming to light, a common argument is:

“All browsers are insecure, just practice safer browsing by not clicking on links in unsolicited mail.”

Sure, that’s a important part of being safe on the net, but it’s only half of the picture. Of course all browsers will have security holes at particular points in time, no software is perfect.

However, what we should be looking at is a vendor’s response to security vulnerabilities. It’s how quickly a vendor can patch a hole and distribute the fix which is most important. (Of course, security by design and underlying operating system are also important factors.)

DaniWeb asks: “Time to dump Internet Explorer for something safer?”

Time to dump Internet Explorer for something safer?

?

Another day, another IE flaw! Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Internet Explorer water (mainly as Microsoft told you it was after releasing yet another patch to fix yet another vulnerability) comes the news that actually, would you believe it, but Internet Explorer still isn’t safe.

Hopefully — just hopefully — the market will sort itself out. In Europe, where warnings were issued against the use of Internet Explorer*, Internet Explorer loses market rapidly:

According to data released by the AT Internet Institute, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has fallen to under 60% of visits in Europe. The firm suggests that with widely publicized news of a major security flaw and moves being made by competing browsers, IE’s fall may not be reversed in the very near future.

Internet Explorer is not just a Web browser. It is Microsoft’s attempt to control and to change the Internet for its own benefit. Microsoft uses the Internet to suppress adoption of GNU/Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X through all sorts of proprietary extensions that make Web sites and Web applications inaccessible to non-Microsoft customers.

Here is fruit for thought:

Life after Windows: What happens to tech if Microsoft dies

[...]

Client applications: Kiss consistency good-bye The client application landscape will be almost unrecognizable in a post-Microsoft world. The deprecation of the legacy Windows API, coupled with the move to an entirely Web-based delivery model, will open the floodgates of innovation — and create massive headaches for support personnel, who must now contend with the rich variety of UI designs and implementations that define the Web application experience.

It is hypothetical, but no monopoly lasts forever; Microsoft too will be just part of the past some day.
____
* Internet Explorer was also slammed by the Australian government (and New Zealand) after Germany and France had made the call.

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Gravatar

    Didn’t the late Ed Foster have a lot to say about getting rid of MSIE and MS Outlook? If I remember correctly some of the first calls about dropping both came when the ‘products’ were very new to the market and were obviously falling on their faces.

    His consumer rights work was a constant thumb in the eye for Microsoft and even after getting let go from the Microsoft sponsored magazines, he kept at it on his own site until his unexpected demise.

    I can find his obit, but not his work from 1999 and 2000.

    http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/in-memoriam-ed-foster-539

    http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/07/memoriam-ed-foster-1949-2008

  2. Dennis Murczak said,

    January 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Gravatar

    Well, I found the “Life after Windows” article not so enlightening… the author seems to think everyone will fall over each other in anarchy and slaughter their pets if they can’t have any more Windows.

    In reality, it will be (better: already is) a steady shift away from legacy desktop-only technology. That’s where the industry heads, regardless of Microsoft hanging kicking and screaming at their coat-tails.

  3. your_friend said,

    January 27, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Gravatar

    No consistency without Microsoft? Nonsense! The basics of Unix have not changed much and free software implementations offer great simplification and user ease. Better yet, the Unix implementations have just worked and not needed “support”. In the same time period Microsoft has gone through the most contorted UI changes from Windows 1 to Windows 7, each step had multiple, inconsistent branches and all of them have been a support nightmare. Reading a script for Microsoft Outlook button pushing has never been adequate support for users. It would always have taken less time and been easier on everyone to relay the four or five pieces of standardized knowledge instead. Microsoft’s interfaces have intentionally hidden knowledge all along, it’s key to keeping users helpless and divided.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Gravatar

    @Dennis

    That article was from a “Windows guy”, so he’s just defending his territory.

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