01/10/2006: Thought for the Day:
Four years ago, Bill Gates dispatched a companywide e-mail promising that security and privacy would be Microsoft's top priorities. Gates urged that new design approaches must "dramatically reduce" the number of security-related issues as well as make fixes easier to administer. "Eventually," he added, "our software should be so fundamentally secure that customers never even worry about it."
Microsoft customers haven't stopped worrying. A year later, Windows was hit with several nasty worms, including Slammer, Sobig, and Blaster. The viruses caused major traffic bottlenecks throughout the world, which cost tens of billions of dollars to clean up. Vulnerabilities deemed "critical" have forced the company to release an almost unending stream of patches and fixes to the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer.
Just last week, another problem reared its head—a security hole that could allow Windows users to become infected with adware, spyware, or viruses by simply viewing an e-mail, instant message, or Web page. When Microsoft dragged its heels on issuing a patch, the SANS Institute, an organization that tracks security threats, took the extraordinary step of recommending that users download an unofficial patch developed by a Russian programmer. (Microsoft had planned to release its fix on Jan. 10, but ultimately bowed to pressure and issued it five days earlier.)
With the company's security problems still monopolizing the news, you might have expected that Bill Gates would address the vulnerability at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Instead, he boasted how Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, would extend the company's tendrils into your living room. Sure, it might be nice to connect your computer and your television set. But is it worth it to give hackers access to your television?
--Adam L. Penenberg
Len on 01.10.06 @ 06:51 AM CST