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Pushing the Envelope

Week of April 24, 2002
'The ability of even a ho-hum virus to spread effectively across the Internet may speak volumes about the ill-preparedness of home users and many corporations to deal with even old security threats.'
  -- Robert Lemos, CNET

In the understatement of the year, Robert Lemos of CNET makes a wild guess as to why a worm as lame as Klez could spread at a rate greater than one tenth that of the legendary ILOVEYOU. Writing as he does for CNET, Lemos studiously avoided negative rhetoric and his submission no doubt passed by the editor's desk without a tremor, seen as a necessary yet subtle assessment of where the blame lies.

But Lemos is forgetting one vital explanation for Klez, namely that unworthy netizens out there, netadmins and ordinary users alike, simply don't care. They're not the kind to visit these pages or to stay very long if they make the mistake of coming on by. They're the kind that are still amazed that AOL lets them talk on the phone and surf at the same time. The kind that still can't get used to having 'a verbal chat electronically'. The kind that only wants to download MP3s and doesn't care what kind of spyware they get infected with. The kind that uses someone else's computer.

It's a highway out there all right, and not so long ago Linux users and ISPs both were enraged that this kind of stupidity could be allowed to continue. One Linux website offered a form letter to send to the idiots, demanding they either cleaned their machines or got off the Internet, and several ISPs threatened to terminate the accounts of users found to be propagating worms. One thing is for sure: Netizens everywhere will continue to be pummeled by this nonsense until there are some further and more stringent regulations governing responsibility online and the rest of the Internet wises up. Until then, we may thank the worm writers for constantly bringing these issues to our attention.

For they do have a point to make, and at least one of them has admitted to only wanting to make this point and nothing else.

  • Anyone dimwitted enough to run a Windows box right off the shelf, along with default Microsoft settings and Microsoft Outlook and no security precautions in Internet Explorer, is too dumb to be online.
  • If the world did not inculcate Microsoft's pervasive mentality, most or all of this would never happen.
  • The congenitally deficient cerebral abilities of the totally brainwashed Microsofties and the assumption by the Microsoft suits that the rest of humanity is just as dumb leads to catastrophes like this.
  • People are generally willing to learn, and would be as competent online and at a keyboard as they are behind the wheel of a vehicle on an ordinary highway, if they weren't treated like idiots by the company in Redmond.

But all of this is well known. So while the likes of Robert Lemos issue statements that push the envelope at radical websites like CNET, the rest of us can just sit back and sigh.

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