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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Microsoft Insecurity

So today I came in to the office and my computer had rebooted. I left it on because I always leave it on; Windows 2000 always takes too long to reboot and pick up my 700+ pieces of mail I get nightly from a cold start. (No, I am not kidding about that number. Probably two-thirds are spam, and most of the others are various and sundry automated work-related alerts I get.) At some point overnight, we had a brief outage that shut down every computer in the office. So I get in, and turn the thing on.

boot... boot ... boot ...

I log in.

chime ... background ... blah

Twenty minutes later it still hadn't finished coming up. I couldn't even see Outlook, which is set up to start at login. Fine. Get a browser window and check the news on Drudge, Yahoo, whatever. I click on a link. Nothing happens... then a flurry of activity, and from nowhere, a browser fullsizes itself and demands I click to a link that promises it will rid me of nasty spyware forever.

Yeah, right.

Somehow, I'm not quite sure how, I think I ended up saying "yes" to installing some malware on my machine, and all due to Windows' insistance on being only apparently ready to take my requests -- but then routing them randomly (from my point of view) when they are at last presented. It reset my browser to point to their unpleasant little site, and popped out the CD I was listening to (Lyle Lovett's "Live In Texas", thanks for the suggestion, Jon). So long as Microsoft thinks ease of use should come ahead of actual, meaningful security, so long will we have viruses and trojans.

And, did I mention I'm going to run Linux on my new work computer?


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