Saturday, September 08, 2007


Windows Security - damned if you protect yourself, damned if you don't.

It seems widely acknowledged that Windows has some design issues and Microsoft has some QA issues that result in a fairly significant stream of security problems and fixes with Windows operating systems. Combine that with its dominant role in the market place and the loathing of Microsoft that can be found in some quarters and the net result is a fairly toxic security environment with legions of spammers, hackers and malware creators doing their best to get into your system.

No problem, you might say, simply get all the Microsoft automatic updates and use good security products and your problems will be over. Yeah, right !

Automatic updates generate an unstable computing environment where things that did work suddenly stop working. A wireless card perhaps, or a software application. Worked yesterday, won't work today. Hmm, I needed that. Oh well, never mind. Perhaps another update will fix it.

In addition to Windows updates the antivirus and security software suites rely on frequent updates, patches and fixes to maintain their defences. This may mean that a dial up user goes on line and half way through downloading his email the antivirus has an update to install so it stops the email scanning to update itself. The result is a dropped POP3 session requiring a restart of the email client and another download of all that stuff you were part way through receiving. Oh well, at least I know my spam has been filtered with the latest virus signatures.

Internet Explorer has stopped working again, and I see the Trend Micro PCCillin icon has vanished from the systray, so an update of something has broke that. Does this mean I have no security now ? I have two other browsers (and another operating system) to go at, so life goes on.

The more I think about this the more I am convinced it can't continue. I cannot live with an Operating System that is dependent on frequent updates to keep itself safe - the result is just too unstable.

Equally I can't be doing with Internet Security products that slow the machine down noticeably and break themselves and other things with monotonous regularity. A customer spent £60-odd quid on Norton 360 and it doesn't auto-update, so it declares itself insecure and spooks the guy - LiveUpdate appears to be broken and there is no fix available. Are Symantec a bunch of total Fuckwits ? selling a security product with a broken updater is perhaps worse than selling a vulnerable operating system that is dependent for protection on security products.

So try buying a PC without Windows - you can forget an HP, Acer, Samsung, Sony or Asus for a start. All of these will ship desktop or laptop retail PCs only with a Windows OS installed and paid for, even if your first act will be to format the HDD and put a Linux CD in the drive. Unbelievable.


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